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Eco groups may unite

Grinnell’s environmental groups may consolidate under the direction of a new Student Sustainability Coordinator position.

Currently, there are three environmentally focused groups on campus: the SEC (Student Environmental Committee), the DEC (Dorm Environmental Coordinators), and the FTP (Free the Planet). Ethan Heppner ’11 came up with the idea to hire someone to coordinate the actions of all the environmentally focused groups.

“The idea is to have a student coordinator position that would function similar to a cabinet position, it would be paid to oversee the efforts that are taken by the environmental groups but with some reorganizations,” Heppner said. “So right now there exist the SEC, the DEC and the FTP program that would be put in such a way that they would be closer together, and the sustainability coordinator would be the chair of the SEC. It would be the SEC and DEC program put together, and this is something that we are going to implement regardless whether there is or not a student sustainability coordinator position.”

Environmental & Safety Coordinator Chris Bair described the birth of the idea.

“When [Heppner] first mentioned it, the idea was to have a student sustainability coordinator, whether that is a current student or a recent graduate,” he said. “But after subsequent discussion with the SGA, SEC, they’ve all decided that it makes more sense that it be a current student. It would be a part time job. Right now we are thinking about ten hours a week.”

The various environmental groups are organized differently and overseen by different groups. The SEC is an SGA committee whose chair is appointed by the SGA cabinet. DECs are hired by Facilities Management (FM) and are paid for their work. FTP is a student group that selects its own leadership and is open to the student body.

First the SEC has to talk about the position and find its roles, and that is going on right now—they have talked about it a lot. They plan to meet with President Raynard Kington and next semester there will be a town hall meeting regarding environmental issues in general on campus. The position could be created as soon as next fall.

“I think we are really committed to the idea of unifying the student environmental groups,” said SEC Chair Emily Blythe ’12. Right now, we don’t know what the other one is doing, so it’s kind of fragmented. But we are not quite sure yet what format we are going to take, but we are definitely in the process of brainstorming and forming a proposal.”

The environmental groups are considering a variety of ways to organize the new position.

“We haven’t decided what the best structure is—whether the person answers to me, as an FM, or be more of a student cabinet SGA position. That hasn’t been completely hashed out yet,” Bair said. “We will pick a person probably a bit late this semester, so I think it would be probably early to mid next semester to have someone on board to start doing something like this.”

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