In a townhouse on 22nd Street, four students are setting up a model for sustainability. Across town, other students lobby for the rights of fair trade farmers. These are just two examples of a growing socially aware and green movement on GW’s campus.
Senior Maggie Desmond, director of green initiatives for the Student Association, is one of the students living in the “Green GW House.” She said they are working on ways to cut waste as well as energy and water consumption.
“Among students there’s definitely a movement,” Desmond said. “I also think there’s a strong interest among faculty and administrators.”
Desmond works as a liaison between groups such as Green GW and the SA. Desmond was one of the founders of Green GW last year and now serves as its communications director.
“Our next step is to push for green policies on campus,” Desmond said. In its first year, she said that Green GW focused mainly on organization and communication.
But now, groups like Green GW have a vast new resource – money from the Socially Responsible Initiatives commission.
Last spring, the University set up a special fund of $25,000 to support “socially responsible initiatives.”
To establish guidelines and oversee the money, then-SA President Lamar Thorpe set up a special commission.
The commission is made of nine people, including five in charge of a different type of socially responsible initiative, senior Elliot Bell-Krasner said.
Bell-Krasner is the student well-being chair and said he has had several meetings to determine specifically what that means.
While Bell-Krasner said that most of the “nuts and bolts” in the SRI’s policies are still being nailed down, he said nobody will be excluded from applying.
“We want to get a wide variety of applicants,” Bell-Krasner said.
Students for Fair Trade is also likely to apply for money from the SRI, the group’s president said.
“We consider ourselves a social justice group,” said Amanda Formica, a sophomore and the Students for Fair Trade president. “We care very much about social responsibility.”
Students for Fair Trade focuses on education, advocacy and outreach, Formica said. The group hosted a lobby day on Friday to advocate against a farm bill they said will hurt fair-trade farmers at home and abroad.
The group is now pushing for the athletic and outdoor recreation departments to use fair-trade sporting goods. In the past, the group lobbied successfully for fair-trade coffee options on campus.
“It’s here because of us,” Formica said.
Formica also serves as one of two treasurers on the SRI commission. She said that even though she will be voting on who receives money, her position on the SRI commission and Students for Fair Trade does not pose a conflict of interest.
“I’m here to help other students,” Formica said, adding she would not want to inhibit other student organizations.