Colorado State University can only be as green as its students.
While CSU has received two platinum ratings from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, a comprehensive sustainability assessment, as well as other green accolades, its students play a huge role in sustainability initiatives on campus.
Getting students involved in sustainability is one of the hardest parts when it comes to achieving sustainability. According to CSU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan, the number one goal when it comes to student engagement is 100 percent participation from students.
“I think it’s really hard to get students engaged and interested in getting involved because I know we’re all so busy with classes and working,” said Emily Taylor, the director of the Student Sustainability Center.
According to Taylor, CSU is a leader in sustainability involvement, yet there is still room for improvement.
“I think that we have done a lot of good work in getting students involved compared to other universities,” Taylor said. “I think we’re definitely a leader in that, but engagement is actually a huge part of sustainability tracking on our campus.”
Taylor said there are four categories the SSC is focusing on for the strategic plan: academics, research, operations and engagement, with the latter being the tool the group is trying to work on more.
With engagement comes education. Students must be educated on sustainability if they are going to be involved in CSU sustainability initiatives, according to Tim Broderick, the assistant director of Sustainability for Housing & Dining Services.
“We have to get people aware of (sustainability), and have them challenge themselves,” Broderick said.
Lack of education around sustainability creates barriers for students, which could prevent them from participating in sustainable life practices.
“We in Housing and Dining Services, on the operation side, have to make it as easy as possible,” Broderick said.
Yet students still have to do their part, Broderick said.
“Trying to remove barriers is important,” Broderick said. “We can make it easy for you, but you also have to help us out and you be willing to try.”
One way students can get involved and educated about sustainability is through the Eco Leaders program.
“The Eco Leaders are student peer educators that work to engage students in their hall,” said Tonie Miyamoto, the co-chair of the President’s Sustainability Committee.
Miyamoto said Eco Leaders can provide lots of different entry ways into the program and into sustainability.
According to Taylor, it is evident that CSU is leading in sustainability in comparison to other universities, yet more student involvement is key to being more sustainable.
“We have to all march together toward these goals,” Broderick said. “So for us to keep having the conversation on what’s important right now, and having awareness around sustainability is so important for us to have that end goal of a sustainable future.”
Collegian reporter Jorge Espinoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @jorgespinoza14.