Campus ‘more receptive’ to eco-friendly initiatives

With changes in the environment have come changes in the way that it is cared for and protected.

Wanda Knapik, and environmental studies professor and creator and director of the campus garden and the students of the Ecology Club and Environmental Studies program have been striving to make SHU even more environmentally-conscious.

Students enjoy the peace and solitude of the campus garden.
Kiera Alexander/Staff Photographer

Knapik explained in an email that she and her students have been making changes on campus for years.

“There have always been students who want to contribute more to environmental initiatives on campus like recycling and composting and taking care of the campus garden,” Knapik wrote.

Enthusiasm is increasing though. Ecology Club President and diplomacy and international relations and environmental studies major, Gabrielle Hunt explained in an email why she thinks that students are even more interested this year to protect the environment.

“As a senior, I’ve noticed that the campus climate this year seems to be more receptive and excited about the environmental initiatives than ever, which is likely due to broader domestic trends in environmental consciousness paired with an ambitious, environmentally-aware student government,” Hunt said.

She emphasized that the Ecology Club is working to make sure that its mission is carried out.

“Ecology Club is called ‘ecology’ and not ‘environmental club’ because our vision transcends just talking about small, shallow measures of say, recycling or turning out lights when we leave the room. It moves towards discussions on the ethical, philosophical, and even spiritual dimensions of humanity’s connection to the broader ecosystem,” Hunt said.

August Pimentel, vice president of the Ecology Club and senior economics major wrote in an email about the kind of work that the club has been investing itself in.

“On campus, we are currently working with SGA to map out the location of all the water bottle refill stations, pushing the reusable mug initiative recently started at the campus Dunkin Donuts, and increasing use of recycling bins in the residence halls,” he said. “The showing of Chasing Coral and the panel following was a great way to get students involved in activism as well.”

Violet Reed, vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and junior English and environmental studies major, provided further details about the actions that SGA is taking to promote sustainability.

“In my freshman year, I became Senator-at-Large. I noticed the problem of recycling on campus,” she said. “The trash cans had a lot of plastic and Styrofoam coming out of them. As I campaigned for Vice President, I had the idea of reusable cups being used at Dunkin Donuts rather than having the plastic cups thrown out.”

Reed adds that the community that Seton Hall has between the faculty and students allowed the plan to be put into place.

“I find that administrators are open to new ideas,” she said. “I worked with Gourmet Dining Services to figure out how to allow students and faculty to take their clean reusable cups to Dunkin’ Donuts. The promotion that is going on currently charges customers $1.70 for medium-sized hot coffee and $2.25 for medium-sized iced coffee.”

The Student Government Association, Reed said, is now promoting the #BlueGoesGreen campaign. Filling reusable cups at Dunkin’ Donuts with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate is just one part of the campaign. It is intended to encourage plastic water bottle use as well.

“This Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 1-4 p.m. outside of the University Center, we’ll have the opportunity for students and faculty learn about the message behind the Blue Goes Green campaign, which is to reduce, reuse and recycle,” Reed said. “They will also get free water bottles. Blue Goes Green’s message is simple, but important. If people hold each other accountable and work toward that goal, it can make a difference. The water bottles we are giving out are BPA-free.”

The passion that Hunt, Pimentel and Reed have for the environment has been an integral part of their lives for many years. They have personal connections with the work that they and other students do on campus.
Hunt explained that she does not recall a time when the environment was not a part of her life. She has applied it to her career choice and daily life.

“I’ve grown up vacationing in Montana almost every summer, so that’s certainly where my love of the natural world began,” she said. “That love turned towards interest in advocacy work when I read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules at 12, and then lobbied on Capitol Hill for a component of the Food Bill when I was 16. And environmental advocacy has followed me into my college years.”

Reed, whose passion for the environment translates into her work as Vice President of SGA, grew up with a deep love for the environment as Hunt had.

“I grew up with animals all around me; my family raises chickens. My parents’ love for the environment was engrained in me,” Reed said. “I remember being in the fifth grade and feeling a kind of anxiety about what I needed to do to save the environment. This summer, I interned at MEVO, which is the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization. It showed me what it means to engender community around food products. DOVE now features Service on Saturdays at MEVO.”

Pimentel recalls having an interest in the environment for most of his life, but is aware that his interest resonated the most when he was eighteen.
“Personally, I have had an interest in the environment for most of my life,” Pimentel said. “I grew up in Connecticut right on Long Island Sound, which is a beautiful natural landscape. My interest really took off when I was 18 and learned about sustainable food production at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (where Ecology Club is visiting Nov. 3), as well as realizing the severity of climate change. Everyone can easily play a small part in making the world a better place, and we are trying to help those who want to, see some ways that they can.”

Professor Knapik said that her students want to see a stronger Environmental Studies program on campus.

“Students are asking for more Environmental Science professors to be hired by the University. They are asking for an Environmental Science Department to be created,” she said. “Right now we have an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program, with no one leading the program in a full time capacity. Students are asking for more faculty to be hired and for an official department to be formed.”

Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at kaitlyn.quinn@student.shu.edu.

Author: Kaitlyn Quinn

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