New residential hall position to promote sustainability

Students with a passion for sustainable living will be able to help lead the environmental awareness movement in their residence halls because a new position in the Residence Hall Association, the Eco Rep, will be available for students to apply for next semester.

Brian Sullivan, a junior business and environmental science major, came up with the idea while enrolled in the Chasing Carbon class last semester.

“It was our mission to try to make TCU a little more green,” Sullivan said. “We felt like this was an easy thing to do to help generate awareness of sustainable living standards.”

An Eco Rep can be any major or year and will work with the RHA and the assistant hall director of the representative’s residence hall to create programs for residents that have a sustainable theme. Sullivan said the representative will also collaborate with Eco Reps in other dorms around campus to create a larger campus-wide program.

Sullivan said students qualified to be Eco Reps will most importantly have a basic understanding of the environment and a commitment to living a green lifestyle.

“We want someone that makes those small sacrifices in their own life while trying to make the world a better place,” Sullivan said. “They need to be outgoing and able to make living a green lifestyle a fun thing to do.”

Sullivan said he was inspired by other universities, like Texas Tech and the University of North Texas, where fully-developed versions of the Eco Rep are already in place on campus.

“We kind of just followed their model, so we’re among one of the first few schools to implement this,” Sullivan said.

He said each residence hall, including the Tom Brown-Pete Wright apartments, will have an Eco Rep, but that could change.

Because the level of involvement in each residence hall and the amount of students living in them varies, the number of Eco Reps per residence hall will ultimately be left to the discretion of the RHA, he said.

Eric Russell, president of RHA, said because the campus is pushing more green initiatives overall, he wanted to help the residence halls head in the same direction.

“By having an Eco Rep integrated into the hall council and RHA system, we would expect more environmentally friendly programs,” Russell said. “The goal is to have the Eco Rep be the voice of environmental concern within each hall.”

Stephanie Eady, co-instructor of the Chasing Carbon course, said the idea is a great way to get students into the habit of practicing what they learn in class.

“I can teach some of these things in lecture but the message can often get lost or forgotten by the time a student goes home and is out of class mode,” Eady said.

She said she believes the only way to make environmentally-conscious decisions a way of life is to practice them. By having an Eco Rep in the residence halls, Eady said, there will be a continuity from classroom to dorm room.

According to the Eco Rep proposal, possible programs the chosen representative would implement include a spring film competition centered around an environmental theme, river clean-ups with the TCU Environmental Club and recycling competitions. According to the RHA constitution, the Eco Rep must also hold monthly meetings with hall residents to address ways to remain environmentally friendly.

Sullivan said the application process will begin during the first couple of weeks of the 2010 fall semester.