Discourse / Letters / February 29, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Response to ‘Sustainability coordinator a priority?’

Last week, “Thoughts From the Embers” said, “new jobs should only happen out of necessity.” If you ask Environmental Studies students or students engaged in action projects on campus, they will tell you that a Campus Sustainability Coordinator is a necessity. So much time and energy is wasted on this campus on projects with the best of intentions that end up falling by the wayside after that student or those students graduate. Sustainability efforts that benefit the whole campus end up falling on the same small group of committed students, mostly from the Environmental Studies Department. Do we ask the Economics majors to create the Knox budget? No. A Sustainability Coordinator would oversee student and institutional initiatives and cut down on the wasteful, inefficient projects that allow the student body to discount campus environmentalists.

While I agree there are other areas of campus life that need more funding and assistance, it hurts my feelings that this editorial, written by students I know and respect, gives such a flagrant disregard for a group of students who have put their hearts and souls into Knox sustainability — and been told we aren’t doing enough. It’s not our job to take on huge projects that should be the Knox administration’s responsibility. All other arguments aside, I felt this article was disrespectful of the hard work already being undertaken by campus groups and students around campus.

The editorial also pointed out that much of the support for the creation of this position comes from the Environmental Studies Department and Sustainability Task Force and is not fully supported by the student body. I have a few points to make on that count. First, the Environmental Studies Department knows best what it’s talking about. We know what is at stake and understand these issues better than anyone on campus. The fact that this position has strong support within the department should increase support for the position, not detract from it. Second, the fact that it doesn’t have overwhelming student support isn’t a reason to sweep it under the rug. It’s the very reason this position is important! Campus sustainability initiatives have, thus far, mostly been understood by Environmental Studies students — and not very many others. Sustainability is undervalued on this campus and that is not something we should be proud of. “Projects that truly benefit students” should be far-reaching and well-executed. That will not happen without support for students through the creation of a Sustainability Coordinator position.

Gretta Reed


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