Sustainability club nixed by university

The Society of Sustainability, a new professor- and student-created organization, is being denied status as a recognized university organization because it seemed too similar to other organizations on campus, said the club’s faculty adviser.Professor of sociology Keith Whitworth said the club will educate students on sustainability – which involves economic development, environmental stewardship and social justice – and will serve as a central hub for all sustainability issues and organizations on campus.

“They defined the organization as an advocacy group that wants to look at the environmental, social and economic opportunities to encourage a sustainable lifestyle,” said Forrest Lane, assistant director of student affairs.”The problem is that because they defined it very broadly, we just want to make sure of what its differences are.”

If recognized by the university, SOS could benefit from university resources, such as access to university facilities, funding through the Student Government Association and staff support, Lane said.

The student SOS officers must now clearly define the differences and similarities between their organization and other organizations, such as the Environmental Club, Frogs for Fair Trade and the Living Wage Club, in order to receive approval, Lane said.

“There are numerous organizations on our campus that are doing something related to sustainability,” Whitworth said, “but there’s no coordination between organizations and departments, and SOS will provide a centralized way of bringing the different constituencies together.”

The student officers, who started the club last spring and applied for official university status in September, include President Christine Cook, Vice President Lauren Allen, Secretary Nick Russo and Treasurer Sarah Warner, Whitworth said.

“We’re not promoting or fighting for one specific area or one specific source,” said Warner, a senior sociology major. “We are trying to change the mindset of students so they become more globally aware and know about sustainability and introduce the different aspects into their lives.”

The club would serve as coordinator of the organizations and departments that deal with issues of sustainability, and will be the main campus resource for information about these organizations and how to get involved, Whitworth said.

“The SOS club will play an important role in TCU’s future and ultimately will lead to either an office of sustainability or a designated staff person to oversee issues and initiatives related to sustainability,” Whitworth said.

Lane said if the club officers clearly define the differences between SOS and other organizations, there should not be a problem approving the organization.

“I really think we have a good shot at being approved especially because it’s easier to explain when all four of us can sit down and explain how it’s not just based on one subject or issue,” said Allen, a senior psychology major.