The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

FTP proposes new sustainability coordinator

Free the Planet (FTP), a campus group that promotes environmental awareness, is calling for the creation of an Office of Sustainability, with a Sustainability Coordinator who would oversee environmental efforts at Grinnell.

“We want someone who can both teach classes [about environmentalism] and oversee a lot of the different groups on campus,” said Kayla Koether ’12, co-leader of FTP and the FTP Campus Policy sub-group overseeing the proposal.

A Sustainability Coordinator could assist student and administration conservation projects, teach classes about environmentalism and oversee student workers and other staff members working to make other departments more environmentally friendly.

Over 35 students, faculty and staff attended the forum, many of whom already work with sustainability efforts on campus.

“Now is the time to be thinking about these things,” said Chris Bair, Facilities Management (FM)’s Environmental and Safety Coordinator. “I think we’re doing a lot of very neat things…[but] we’re not really moving forward as a unified effort.”

Bair currently oversees many conservation projects on campus. He works with FM, other administrators and student groups such as the Student Environmental Committee (SEC) and Eco-House.

FTP wants a sustainability coordinator in addition to Bair’s position, with a greater role on campus, according to Eliza Mutino ’12, a FTP member and FTP campus policy sub-group coordinator along with Koether. According to Mutino, one important role would be to “provide leadership for student projects when student leadership isn’t as strong.” Such a position would also create a form of institutional memory for student groups, according to Mutino.

In fact, the FTP Campus Policy sub-group started the year working to bring local foods into the dining hall.
“When we were doing local foods work, [we found that] four to five years ago, students had done tons of surveys, and [calculated] the cost, and assessments of what local foods would do for the College,” Koether said.

Dining Services could not accommodate FTP’s ambitious goals.

“I think that they [dining services] could be doing a lot more with local foods,” Koether said.

According to Assistant Director of Dining Services Terry Waltersdorf, Dining Services does all they can to buy locally, and that there aren’t enough farmers selling food to Grinnell to meet the demand.

“There’s a lot of little growers that they want to sell at farmers markets and they want the interaction with the people,” Waltersdorf said. “We don’t need the interaction so much as we need the food.”

Waltersdorf was at yesterday’s forum. He said Dining Service works to be environmentally friendly in other ways as well, such as composting kitchen and table waste and recycling office materials, and that he will happily work with a Sustainability Coordinator if such a position is created.

Mutino hopes that a Sustainability Coordinator could help Dining Services find more farmers willing to farm for Grinnell.

“A lot of schools that had success with local foods in their dining halls also had sustainability coordinators,” Mutino said.

However, the process of hiring a Sustainability Coordinator might come across problems of its own. According to Bair, it will be hard to create a new office, especially given the College’s financial situation.

“The ideal scenario would be to have a big office with a decent budget and several students,
 Bair said. “I don’t imagine that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

Bair proposed first creating a less ambitious Office of Sustainability. He could work with faculty and student workers to accomplish many of the same goals without creating as much new hierarchy.

“As I look at other sustainability coordinators [like Macalaster College’s], I think her position is…half what I do and half academics,” Bair said.
Koether hopes the entire campus will embrace a new dedication to sustainability.

“It shouldn’t just be the environmental groups that are thinking about environmentalism,” Koether said.

According to Koether and Mutino, FTP will present their suggestions to the trustees when they visit campus next week.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *