Sustainability office hosts student-led discussions on green campus initiatives

Media Credit: Keegan Mullen | Senior Staff Photographer

Giovanna Kupeic, an undergraduate intern for the Office of Sustainability, speaks at the office's first roundtable discussion Wednesday night.

The sustainability office is hosting a series of roundtable discussions starting this month for student leaders to voice their ideas and concerns about green initiatives and projects at the University.

The discussions – which began Wednesday – are conducted by the Office of Sustainability and are open to all students. Officials said the discussions will guide future sustainability projects at GW and help the University work toward long-term collaboration with students for sustainability projects.

The next discussion is scheduled for Jan. 30, and a third discussion is slated for late April, officials said.

At Wednesday’s discussion, about 10 students spoke about what ideas they have for future sustainability projects and what resources they would like the Office of Sustainability to provide, like an online platform for sustainability organizations to collaborate. The event ended with a discussion of challenges sustainable student organizations face, like retaining members, increasing engagement, raising awareness and planning for future events.

University spokesman Tim Pierce said the Office of Sustainability began discussing the roundtable events last spring. He said the staff in the Office of Sustainability and the office’s interns were involved in the planning process.

“These sessions are important because they give the Office of Sustainability the chance to facilitate a forum for students to set collective goals, receive feedback and promote dialogue, and identify opportunities to work collaboratively,” Pierce said in an email.

Pierce said the sessions will serve as space where all students at GW can come together to talk about “fostering a more sustainable campus.” He said officials expect students in attendance will include those interested in sustainability and students who participate in sustainability-based student organizations.

He added that the Office of Sustainability will hold roundtable discussions as long as there is “sufficient student interest.”

Pierce declined to say if and when an official report will be released about the conversations.

Kimberly Williams, the stakeholder engagement associate in the Office of Sustainability, led Wednesday’s discussion. She said the office is hoping to learn more about student ideas so officials can be the most effective and useful to the student body.

“Students have historically been a driver of sustainability on campus – student energy led to the founding of the office of sustainability,” she said.

Lucy Hummer, the president of Green GW, said members of the organization plan to attend the roundtable discussions. She said she is excited to meet with other students interested in sustainability on campus who attend the event and may not be involved in green-focused student organizations.

“I think any type of event like this just naturally brings about community-building,” Hummer said in an email. “This is important because there are students who have similar interests in all different parts of the school, and there aren’t many times that they all come together.”

Hummer added that she thinks this event will strengthen the relationship between green student organizations and the Office of Sustainability.

“It is a group discussion, not the office giving a presentation or just talking at the group,” she said. “It allows for open communication between the larger structure of the school and the individuals that make up the student body.”

Izzy Moody, the co-manager of the GroW Garden and the Student Association’s vice president for sustainability, said that especially since programs under the Sustainability Collaboration were redistributed after its executive director departed in the summer, students should look to the Office of Sustainability as a key resource for promoting sustainability efforts at GW.

Moody said she hopes the discussions can help identify ways that the Office of Sustainability can best support future student initiatives.

“Frequent communication and partnerships among sustainability initiatives at GW are crucial to strengthening sustainable causes at GW,” Moody said in an email. “The green roundtable is a great step toward encouraging collaboration between sustainable student leaders.”

Jacqueline Yap, the president of the Environmental and Energy Law Association, said a conversation between a diverse array of student organizations, students and administrators will allow for community-building between students interested in sustainability at GW.

“Diverse student organizations that represent different interests and stakeholders bring innovative ideas and perspectives to the table,” Yap said in an email. “How active student groups are in supporting sustainability initiatives signals to the University administration that sustainability on campus is a priority for the student body, undergraduates and graduate students alike.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.