Justin Murphy and Dylan Waldhuetter are the newly elected president and vice president of Whitewater Student Government for the 2013-14 school year. As Earth Week approaches, the team is already focusing on the improvements of sustainability efforts on campus. They are planning new projects that they hope will support UW-Whitewater’s progress toward a greener future.
Royal Purple: As president and vice president, what will you do to improve sustainability on campus, and how will you implement these new methods?
Waldhuetter: Currently we are working with Wes Enterline, the sustainability coordinator on campus, as well as Talia Shultz, the chairperson for CMU, which is the marketing
organization, in order to take part in the Earth Day Initiative. A collaborative goal we have is for a campus garden. We would sell plots of land from the campus garden to either student organizations or individual students, and they would do with that land as they pleased. We could have these student organizations growing red peppers in the student garden, and these peppers could be used in the different dining halls. We have also talked about the potential of wind power around campus.
Murphy: One of our main concerns is the star certification which rates campuses on their sustainability goals and efforts, and a college can receive a bronze, silver or gold rating. We are currently at a bronze rating, and we’d love to see that improve. The big problem with sustainability on campus right now is that a lot of the efforts are made to green the operation. As far as education, there is no implemented program in the curriculum to teach about sustainability. We believe efforts to implement sustainable ideas in the curriculum is very important.
RP: How long will these projects take?
Murphy:Optimally these projects will be started and finished within our term of a year. It’s hard to implement a garden when we aren’t in office, but we could lay down the ground work this spring to try to get that in a position so that when we are in office it’s already there. These are projects that can be renewed from year to year, and we are hoping they will be carried on
from administration to administration.
RP: Will these new projects be cost efficient?
Murphy & Waldhuetter: Yes, as far as the campus garden goes, it can be profitable for student organizations as well as students individually. As far as the renewable energy efforts would go, that is still up in the air. The pay back on things like that is great if you can use the wind energy versus electric. A lot of these ideas don’t require a lot of a startup cost which is also nice. There are funds available to start these projects, and yes they will be cost efficient, we’re not going to start a project that will drain money. There is a sustainability fund on campus right now that has been left untouched for years. There is money available such as grants that we can apply for, and if the projects are deemed as worthy, then we can use the funds towards these sustainability projects.
RP: Why is sustainability important on a college campus, and specifically to UW-Whitewater?
Waldhuetter: Waukesha County is already looking for different places to get their water since their water table is depleted. One of the number one efforts we need to make is to be sure Whitewater’s water is not becoming polluted or wasted. If we don’t as not only a campus, but as a country, or as a world make more efforts to be more sustainable, then it will have long term effects on human beings forever.
Murphy: It is important on a college campus because what one does as an individual in a college town will affect its surrounding towns; it is all connected. As a college town we have a lot of water usage, because we host 11,000 plus students. If each individual saved a gallon of water a day up to 11,000 gallons of water could be saved. A lot of water damage is already being seen in our water, so it is important for us to make efforts to maintain the quality of Whitewater’s water through efforts of reusing and recycling it. I think Whitewater can be a leading university in the state when it comes to water sustainability in particular. We are one of the only colleges in the country that offers a water/business major, and we have a lot of bright minded business students who can apply their skills to water and address some of these social issues.