Administration should include students in green initiative

Over this past summer, Chancellor Victor Boshini signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment joining the 578 (to date and growing) other universities and colleges to sign the pledge to be more environmentally savvy. But what does this really mean?

The agreement acknowledges the human effects of global warming and vows to make significant differences for TCU’s academic community, specifically to reduce green house gases by 80 percent before 2050.

Other actions that the university must partake in include: begin to develop a plan to reach climate neutrality, complete an inventory of TCU’s greenhouse gas emissions, implement sustainable education into the university curriculum that all students must experience, keep up-to-date records of the actions being taken by publicly posting them online and pick two additional tangible measures that will help reduce greenhouse gases while the larger plan is being created.

For a university of 8,936 students, with our collective participation, what does the university have to worry about? The problem: we haven’t been asked or educated on the issue. When has the chancellor addressed us as a whole or even sent out an e-mail letting us know what’s going on?

On numerous occasions, the terms “daunting,” “near-impossible” and “extremely drastic” have been used to describe the task ahead of the university to meet the commitment. Perhaps it is because I’m an environmentalist or optimist that I see the gigantic tasks as a wonderful chance to pave the way for future generations at TCU.

How fantastic is it that as students we get to experience and contribute to positive alterations at the university? Yes, it is going to be a challenge, but so is graduating from college with enough credits in four years, getting a job and simply moving forward in life. Just because something appears difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be supported and pursued.

Inspired by a TCU professor, I have learned that a problem might seem gigantic, but once broken down into smaller issues, each can be accurately dealt with and provide a wonderful learning opportunity. The president’s plan even offers several broken down checklists to encourage and progress universities in their “greening.”

There seems to be some sort of disconnect between TCU administration, students and the environment. By educating students about the commitment at hand, the administration would only be helping themselves by getting students onboard their quest.

A year titled “Bleed Purple, Live Green” doesn’t do anything but slap on a label. It doesn’t even seem to be promoting the commitment. An environmental ideology needs to be established and promoted to create a sustainable lifestyle beyond our years at TCU.

How can we be responsible citizens in the world if we haven’t the slightest care about our carbon footprint, our overarching environmental impact and the effect we have on countries and peoples across the globe? We have developing minds that need guiding figures. Where is TCU helping us beyond the few dedicated professors and students?

This summer I studied in both Costa Rica and at Oxford University exploring global environmental issues, so I’m not a fool when I say we have a lot to learn from other countries and universities.

I find it difficult to complain about becoming carbon neutral when there are universities that have 10 or more campuses that are presenting this challenge in an incredibly optimistic manner. What about commuter universities? There are many ways to offset our emissions. It just takes a bit of positive thinking and research.

Already this year, I am astounded by the number of people riding their bikes and buying environmental savvy school supplies at the bookstore. As students uneducated on the university’s commitment, look at what we are already doing. One cannot be more hopeful for a brighter, “greener” future. I think all we need is a little guidance, and perhaps an active role in the commitment the chancellor included all of us in.

Gretchen Wilbrandt is a junior environmental science major from Woodstock, Ill.