When Trump administration officials disregard, or avoid the topic of climate change, there is collective disbelief and disapproval from the general public. In the past weeks, climate change has become a primary cause of concern for climate activists such as Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old activist with Asperger’s syndrome*. Benedictine University is joining those with such concerns as they focused this year’s Darwin Week on climate change. But besides the forums and discussions, is the university administration and students doing their part to help the environment?
According to Rebecca Webber, the president of Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEEDS), SEEDS supports measures for sustainability on campus including improving the campus recycling program, and the use of silverware instead of plastic utensils. While SEEDS was unable to attend the youth protests that occurred in Downtown Chicago, they do implement environmentally friendly methods to reduce waste production.
At the moment, members of SEEDS have been comparing the sustainability of BU with that of North Central; the results show that both colleges are facing similar issues with sustainability, with gaining student support for the environmental clubs.
Benedictine University has implemented a Healthy Lawns policy to reduce the health risks of using pesticides, however, due to invasive species and to beautify the campus, pesticide is used on the sports fields at BU as all sports fields are required to be uniform. This policy was created to protect students’ health as pesticide use has been linked to reduced fertility and other reproductive issues.
“We still use pesticides, but we use them in the beds and at the sports complex. All division 3 teams have to have the same playing fields so if we stop using pesticides the playing fields are no longer the same and not having a uniform playing field leads to more injuries when players fall” stated Gregory Wright, the grounds facilities manager.
The facilities department has implemented a taller mowing height to limit weed growth and are using a fertilizer that involves the use of potassium and nitrogen according to Wright. “We are trying to do more and more composting to enrich the beds to create a more sustainable product.”
The campus has recycling bins that tend to camouflage amongst the regular trash bins and has raised concerns for the members of SEEDS as well as the general student body. In response, Benedictine will be hosting a recycling revival event to remove recycling bins from classrooms to a communal area such as near printers and common sitting areas in which recycling bins will be clearly labeled, hosted by the sustainability and stewardship committee.
Anne Marie Smith revived the sustainability and stewardship committee with other members of the faculty who are just as passionate about the issue.
Benedictine also boasts a solar panel set that is located outside of Birk near the greenhouse, however it is not clear if the solar panels are collecting electricity and where the electricity is going. Currently a group of engineering students are working on reviving the solar panels as part of the sustainability program***. Goodwin also offers many sustainable amenities such as low flush toilets that do not use excessive amount of water. BU uses a wind turbine which aids in powering the parking garage and initiatives are being implemented to monitor exactly how much power the wind turbines bring in.
When asked about the POTUS’ tweets**** regarding climate change, Webber stated that she is actually satisfied with them, as [the tweets] are “Revving people up and making them activists, which probably isn’t the effect that he wanted to create, but it’s great to see people start rallying for climate change…it’s a wakeup call to people that we are going in this awful direction and what the earth will be like unless we do something about it.”
***Engineering Without Borders is working on this project according to Anne Marie Smith. However, The Candor was unable to get a quote from Engineering Without Borders and their advisor, Dr. Bill Schubert.