By Rachel Spacek
The Associated Students of the University of Nevada has taken the first steps in creating a more sustainable campus. These steps are intended to improve air quality, battle climate change and keep the environment healthy for future generations.
Earlier this year, ASUN President Caden Fabbi allocated $10,000 to the new Sustainable Nevada Initiative Fund, an environmental grant program through which students can propose projects that promote campus sustainability. SNIF will be used to fund and promote clubs and projects related to sustainability. Applications for grants from SNIF will open in October and will remain open until the spring.
“We hope to create a culture shift and hope that students catch on and come to us with projects,” said Ryan Suppe, ASUN director of campus and public relations. “The ultimate goal is saving the earth.”
ASUN also hosted its first Green Week beginning Thursday, Sept. 10. There, senators distributed 3,000 free reusable water bottles along with information on the environmental benefits of eschewing single-use plastic bottles. ASUN purchased a Water Monster, a 125-gallon tank that will be used at campus events instead of plastic water bottles.
John Sagebiel, the University Sustainability Committee’s sustainability coordinator, said he believes the biggest concern is educating people. In doing so, people will think more about their ecological footprint and what they can do to reduce environmental harm.
The committee was created in 2008 to establish a plan for a more sustainable campus. Sagebiel’s goal for the committee is to focus on the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System, a self-evaluating system for colleges and universities to measure the sustainability of their campuses.
Sagebiel believes ASUN’s plan to ban plastic water bottles at campus events and to instead use the Water Monster is a crucial step towards a more sustainable campus.
ASUN’s has recently introduced a new senate committee to focus on important issues regarding campus and student safety, sustainability and wellness. The Special Committee on Safety, Sustainability, and Wellness was created by Sen. Michael Upton from the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and Sen. Emilia Carro from the College of Education.
The new committee will be used for senators to discuss safety, sustainability and wellness initiatives as well as encourage students to make healthy choices, increase safety and reduce their environmental footprint.
Sierra Jickling, a freshman at UNR, also hopes to find ways to encourage and educate students on making campus a more environmentally friendly place. Jickling was surprised at the lack of on-campus clubs focused on the environment on campus and has met with Fabbi and ASUN with the idea to begin a new club.
“Student action on behalf of the environment is a social justice issue that’s very important to me, so I knew that if a club didn’t exist on campus the only option would be to form one myself,” Jickling said.
Jickling spoke to Fabbi and praised ASUN for its efforts to change campus culture and make it a healthier and more sustainable place for everyone. She hopes that after the student environmental club is up and running, the club can cooperate with ASUN to focus on campus sustainability issues.
“This is a critical time in the course of human history, and in the course of Reno’s history to define how our city is going to respond to the pressures and stresses of human-exacerbated climate change,” Jickling said. “As the college of Nevada in Reno, UNR has a great opportunity to be one of the front runners in taking this strong stance for the betterment of our future. I urge all students to consider their environment and impact upon it, for the sake of their water, air and outdoor spaces around them.”
Rachel Spacek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @RachelSpacek.