Town hall on sustainability showcases club initiatives
On Tuesday, March 18, the Senate Sustainability Committee hosted its inaugural town hall meeting in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium. The town hall consisted of presentations by different groups and clubs on campus that work to promote eco-friendly practices within the entire Brandeis community. The groups included Brandeis' Eco-Reps, TapBrandeis and Students for Environmental Action.
Class of 2015 Senator and Chair of the Student Union Sustainability Committee Anna Bessendorf began the event by discussing how the committee was created last semester to "centralize" the efforts of all the different clubs that are dedicated to sustainability on campus. For example, the committee was responsible for the installation of 90 dual-flush toilets around campus, which are designed to save one-half gallon of water per flush, according to Bessendorf.
Non-senate Chair of the Sustainability Committee Nate Shaffer '16 then took the podium. He spoke about the Brandeis Sustainability Fund, for which he served on the board last year. The BSF, he said, works to promote sustainability by providing funding for Brandeis students to pursue their eco-friendly ideas. For the 2013 to 2014 academic year, these ideas included: Bike for Shelter, which works to increase the number of bike shelters on campus; 200 subsidized $50 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passes for undergraduate students; TapBrandeis, a returning BSF project which works to stimulate sustainable water-use practices on campus through hydration stations and giving out reusable water bottles; dual-flush toilets and Little Green Libraries, an initiative proposed to create book exchanges where students can trade books they no longer wanted for other books. The exchanges would be placed in various locations on campus and will be built out of recycled and refurbished materials.
Next, a member of the Eco-Reps Margaret Hoffman '15 and Deanna Heller '15, the residential Eco-Rep, spoke about the program.
Eco-Reps is a program of the Campus Sustainability Initiative which encourages people on campus to become "leaders of sustainability," Heller said during the event.
The two representatives then went on to discuss some of the initiatives Eco-Reps are working to implement on campus, including Mug Save, which involved the group negotiating a 45-cent discount on a regular coffee for anyone who brings a reusable mug at the campus coffee shops including vendors such as Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Peets Coffee.
The group also organizes residence hall events to inform students about eco-friendly practices such as turning off the lights when not in use and other simple actions.
Emma Balmuth-Loris '14 and Jeremy Goodman '14, representatives of TapBrandeis, presented the new initiative designed to encourage students to use reusable water bottles and spoke about their plans for the future.
TapBrandeis has applied to the BSF to install more hydration stations on campus, the two representatives announced. The group also set up a stand where people pledge to reduce their use of plastic water bottles in exchange for a free water bottle in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium on Feb. 6 and in the Usdan Student Center on March 17, Balmuth-Loris wrote in an email to the Justice.
Vice President of SEA Stephanie Weinstein '17 took the podium. SEA, Weinstein said, is a student-run organization that focuses on improving sustainability on campus. Weinstein then spoke about the group's regular volunteering efforts at the Waltham Fields Community Farm and SEA's Annual Charles River Cleanup, which occurred on March 22. In the cleanup, the club takes members into Boston to clean up the Christian A. Herter Park, which is alongside the Charles River.
Rohan Bhatia '14, one of the student members of the University-created exploratory Committee on Fossil Fuel Divestment, gave a presentation discussing how the committee and its supporters campaigned successfully for the support of the student body to divest from fossil fuel.
After making a climate refugee camp outside the Shapiro Campus Center, which was designed to demonstrate the number of people who are or will be displaced by natural disasters, and "March 4th for Climate," a protest march down the Rabb steps, 79 percent of students who participated in the vote on April 25, 2013 voted to divest.
The committee is currently working on a presentation for the Board of Trustees.
Bhatia did not specify the date for the presentation, and he did not respond to requests for comment from the Justice by press time.
Next, Jay DeGioia, the resident district manager for Sodexo at Brandeis, discussed Sodexo's plans to become more sustainable.
DeGioia said that Sodexo is dedicated to buying local products, including products from Russo's Market, Red Seafood and Gifford's Ice Cream.
Furthermore, Sodexo launched in November the Sustainable Management and Reporting Tool, an online resource which would calculate numbers on the company's use of carbon and energy, use of water and production of waste.
Managers would keep track of how much of these resources would be used in each dining hall and the SMART program would generate quarterly reports allowing Sodexo to see exactly what needs to be improved and in what areas.
In pursuit of reducing waste and increasing healthy and sustainable food options, Sodexo is hosting a sustainability fair, featuring sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Casella Waste Systems, on April 23. Sodexo is also planning on adopting bamboo plates and utensils, among other actions.
Editor's Note: Non-senate Chair of the Sustainability Committee Nate Shaffer '16 is a member of the JustArts staff.