As the audience of thirty attendants took their seats, Elise Eifler, a member of SEA and Johnson student focusing on Environmental Justice, began the conversation between concerned scholars and curious University employees.
On Wednesday March 21 in University Hall, both students and faculty members entered the building to discuss the topic of sustainability of water and resources on campus, organized by Students for Environmental Action, or SEA.
Eifler started the forum by discussing the subject of sustainability in the University’s curriculum. She stated there are 104 classes on campus that contain elements of or are related to sustainability, but students would like to see more.
“We believe sustainability is an important issue that should be further integrated [throughout classes],” said Eifler.
After sharing this information, Eifler then gave students the opportunity to share their stories or ideas about how they can make change on campus. Many concerns were brought to the forefront including how some feel the vegan menu in the university’s Irvine Commons should be offered on weekends as well as spring break, the over watering of the campus’s grass, how to properly recycle and the installation of solar panels to further conserve power.
Upon hearing these ideas, many students seemed to agree that they are reaching out to the University and President Kuncl because they need help bringing these suggestions to life. A senior, Theo Whitcomb, added “we alone can’t make the school sustainable since we’re only here for 4 years.”
One professor then joined in the conversation, but stated that she felt the dialogue was more of a small conversation and should be more united and respectful.
“Instead of simply saying ‘this needs to happen’ we should be saying ‘why can’t this happen?”
Once this was brought to the students’ attention, a freshman attending the University of Redlands apologizes on behalf of her fellow classmates, explaining that everyone in attendance is very passionate about sustainability and are frustrated that nothing is being done.
The University’s provost, Kathy Ogren, then entered the discussion, stating we’re all in this together, as well as advised students to talk to the faculty around campus if they have questions.
Shifting focus to the matter of the University’s sprinkler system, since it proved to be a common issue among students, the University’s Director of Irrigation explained that the pipes and irrigation system are over 100 years old, and replacing them is a complicated issue. He also urged students to research various websites that contain information regarding sustainability and how his department are preserving and enhancing the campus, as several students previously questioned. In addition, difficulty of communication happened to be another widespread problem for many students since they are unclear on who they can talk to about these issues.
Another concern mentioned in the forum was that students were unable to see the University’s budget and how they were spending their funds. Director of Finance, Cory Nomura, elaborated that he has no problem sharing financial information with students, but would like to be notified ahead of time via email. Cory also urges students to talk to the current ASUR President as he would also have information regarding the budget.
As the sustainability forum came to a close, an aura of relief could be felt in the air as spirited students were able to express their questions, ideas, and worries to a collection of staff members eager to listen. With new knowledge and resources available to them, the attendants set out to achieve their goals of making the University of Redlands’ campus a more sustainable location.
Photos contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer, Caillie Roach.
An edit was made to this story correcting the spelling of Caillie Roach.