WKU’s Student Government Association is hoping to further green-friendly activity through the creation of a new panel.
SGA recently formed the Sustainability Committee after WKU Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan expressed the need for greater student involvement.
“The mission is to raise awareness in our campus community about sustainability issues and practices,” Ryan said. “And to help ensure WKU is working to be a more sustainable campus.”
According to the Sustainability Executive Action, the Sustainability Committee will work on issues many college campuses and communities across the United States are facing. These issues include recycling, renewable energy, campus carbon emissions reduction, more healthy food options on campus and assisting with conducting WKU’s Green Tours.
“We want to put sustainability efforts into student hands,” SGA President Jay Todd Richey said. “It’s very obvious that sustainability efforts are going to be indispensable in preserving our earth and environment and keeping our campus healthy.”
Richey highlighted an understanding that students like healthier food options on campus.
“When you eat better, you feel better,” Megan Dowdell, a sophomore from Louisville, said. “It’s nice WKU has given us options to eat healthier so we feel healthier as well.”
Richey said the committee wants to help students focus on sustainability with healthy food options like bringing food from the farmers market to campus.
“We don’t connect health and well-being to sustainability as well as we could,” Ryan said. “But there’s a huge connection.”
These connections include using green cleaning products on campus to improve the air quality and providing greater access to community farmers markets through the use of Big Red Dollars, Ryan said.
According to the executive action, WKU wants to be able to incorporate sustainability into university academics and to model good sustainable practices for the campus and the greater community.
“This is an organization solely committed to sustainability efforts for WKU,” Richey said. “It’s where any WKU student who is passionate about sustainability efforts can be involved.”
The committee will be led by a student coordinator who will also act as a liaison between the committee and the Office of Sustainability.
According to its web site, the Office of Sustainability’s mission is to “promote a culture of sustainability at WKU, integrating principles of ecological integrity and social equality into academics, practices and partnerships.”
“My responsibility is to help the university as a whole make good decisions regarding the environment,” Ryan said.
The Office of Sustainability targets students’ health by offering fresh produce to the WKU food pantry, providing the Big Red Bikes program and demonstrating the best practices in hopes that students and others can learn what it means to be sustainable.
“Sustainability means different things to different people,” Ryan said. “Generally when people ask me how to define sustainability, I say that it is looking at our decisions from a balanced perspective.”
Ryan added that we must look at our effects on the environment while considering social aspects and implementing ideas that also make sense financially.
“All of our initiatives have been successful and save money,” Ryan said. “Our decisions must be better for the environment, community and the budget.”
Richey hopes the committee will have a lasting impact on campus and will teach those involved, as well as students, the importance of sustainability. He noted it takes people who truly care about the environment to make changes, and he urges students to think about the unnecessary products they use.
“We have to stop and think about so many things each of us do,” Richey said. “You want to leave the world healthier than when you came.”