On Wednesday, Oct. 24, Wesleyan held its first Campus Sustainability Day, which took place in the Usdan Courtyard. To mark the occasion, the University brought out a wide variety of student groups, as well as multiple outside speakers.
“[The general goal was to] spread awareness and excitement for making Wesleyan a more sustainable community,” wrote the University Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Kleindienst in an email to The Argus.
Even though this was the first year it was held at the University, Campus Sustainability Day, an annual event for higher-level institutions, was formed in 2002 by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). According to Kleindienst, the event has two major goals. The first is to promote sustainable groups and actions on campus. The second is to allow schools to measure and report what they do so that other schools can learn from their initiative.
The event’s activities took place both outside and inside of Usdan. The University expanded the already existing Farmers Market by integrating 11 other student sustainability groups, including WesFRESH, Long Lane Farm, and Campus Composting. This allowed visitors to get a scope of the full range of the University’s Sustainability actions on campus.
Additionally, a few seminars that were sponsored by the event organizers were held in Usdan 110. Thirst Project founder Seth Maxwell gave a presentation about his organization’s work. Created in 2007, this project is aimed at bringing attention to the global water crisis. It is a 100 percent non-profit organization that has focused its scope on helping to dig wells in Swaziland. According to Maxwell, the goal of this talk wasn’t so much to ask for donations as it was to promote Thirst Project Initiatives here at the University.
“We find that our success, not only with raising money but also with basic grassroots efforts, is always with college students,” Maxwell said.
The Campus Sustainability Day concluded with an interactive sustainability discussion, sponsored by Second Nature, which is another non-profit organization that aims to promote sustainability at colleges and universities. Through the Google+ hangout, Higher Education experts who work at Second Nature talked about their experiences working on sustainable efforts and the importance of empowering students to create change. They then answered student questions submitted from all across the country. This concluded with a collection of suggestions from people attending the event that ranged from increasing green energy initiatives to participating in the Zero Waste Challenge.
Even though it was the University’s first time celebrating Sustainability Day, the organizers said that they viewed the overall event as a success.
“I’m really thrilled with the action we had today, and I have high hopes for the future, not only for Campus Sustainability Days to come, but also for similar events that bring people together under the common umbrella of sustainability and environmentalism at Wesleyan,” wrote Sustainability Intern Haley Greenberg ’14, one of the event organizers, in an email to The Argus.