Student project pushes for director of sustainability
Belmont students are petitioning university administration to create a position for a director of sustainability.
“There’s a lot of disconnect with the environmental initiatives that are currently going on,” said student Anna Olivier. “We figured out that the best possible thing for Belmont in regard to environmental sustainability is to put a person in charge of that, because Belmont doesn’t have that right now.”
Although Olivier, Julia Mitchell and Abigail Marinetti originally took this challenge on for a class project, they plan to see it through, concluding that a director of sustainability is the best way to enhance environmental literacy on Belmont’s campus.
The university has ongoing initiatives to promote environmental sustainability but this information is not widely available creating misconceptions about Belmont’s stance on sustainability practices.
Identifying the problem as a lack of organization and transparency was just the beginning, said Marinetti.
“It doesn’t create a culture of environmentalism,” she said. “It makes students feel like nothing is being done at Belmont.”
Environmental Science Program Coordinator and associate professor, Matthew Heard, said that having a centralized person could be helpful in promoting transparency but not without hurdles.
“One of the challenges of creating a position like this is that it’s coming from so many different angles. You have an education component, you have a facilities management side and, on top of that, you have to have somebody else who can be really good at communication and think about this from a marketing perspective and a business perspective.”
The process of creating this position or office could take years, as it must be passed through multiple modes of communication, as well as align with the budget cycle.
“We’re still trying to figure it out as we go,” said Olivier. “It’s very complicated. There’s no one direct line of who you go through to propose this.”
That has included presenting at a faculty senate meeting, working with the Student Government Association and having conversations with faculty and staff.
But Oliver does not think this relies just on the efforts of the group project.
“Think about how many students are here and how much waste is generated every day at Belmont. If each person does a little bit, and there’s something big that the university is doing as a whole, we could have a really big impact.”
This story was written by Katie Beth Cannon