This spring, the Office of Sustainability, through their Sustainability Service Corps program, has worked to engage students in the undergraduate residential colleges by launching a series of “Sustainability Weeks.” The engagement efforts support the findings from building evaluations and waste audits that were completed in several of the colleges last semester, but also aims to create a broader dialogue around sustainability within the undergraduate population. Timothy Dwight hosted its Sustainability Week February 11-15th, Pauli Murray hosted from February 25-March 1st, and Pierson hosted from April 1-5th.
At each event, students from the Sustainability Service Corps (SSC) planned a variety of events throughout the week, including study breaks, lightbulb exchanges, and general information tabling sessions. In addition to sharing some waste and energy data specific to the host colleges, students had ample opportunities to ask any general questions about sustainability in a low-key environment. In addition, partnership with the College Class Council for the events in Timothy Dwight College proved useful in engaging more students by building from the community base that already exists.
“Doing Sustainability Week in a normally busy space like the dining hall was a great way to garner attention from students with interests outside of sustainability and environmental issues. Many were surprisingly engaged, especially with the lightbulb exchange,” said SSC member Addison Luck.
For the remainder of the spring term, the SSC will be planning similar events for a few more residential colleges, with Pierson being the next. In addition to hosting similar events as Timothy Dwight and Pauli Murray Colleges, the SSC is considering doing a plastic-bag drive, which would provide students an easy and accessible way to recycle plastic bags that otherwise cannot be placed in the single-stream recycling.
These college-specific events reflect a move towards a system for sustainability awareness and implementation that will be more tailored to each of the colleges. Currently, Sustainability Action Plans are being developed for each of the 14 undergraduate residential colleges and this fall, the Office of Sustainability, in conjunction with each of the colleges, will launch a system of ‘Sustainability Aides’ to assist with implementing the Action Plans. The Sustainability Aides, which will replace the Sustainability Service Corps, will build from the strong sense of community already present in the colleges, and use it to develop and cultivate a sense of environmental responsibility and stewardship.
Yale is committed to building a more sustainable world. By doing what we do best—integrating science, the humanities, and our community—Yale creates, tests and adopts innovative solutions to the environmental and social challenges we all face.