President Byerly announces plans to hire sustainability coordinator on campus
Months of student action for sustainability initiatives on campus culminated in President Alison Byerly’s announcement last Friday that Lafayette plans to hire a sustainability coordinator.
On the steps of Markle Hall, Byerly announced the college’s plans to create the position through a megaphone to a crowd of about 50 students who marched from Farinon.
Leading the march, President of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP) Alexa Gatti ‘16 spoke about the importance of sustainably to the crowd before Byerly made her announcement.
“There needs to be an institutional structure that makes sustainability a priority here,” Gatti said after the rally. This means finding a way to decrease our ecological footprint in terms of food, water, energy and waste, according to Gatti.
Student organizations like Lafayette Food and Farm Cooperative, the Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and LEAP organized the rally initially to motivate the college administration to hire a sustainability coordinator.
“There are a lot of moves that we [as students] cannot make,” member of LEAP Emily Keller-Coffey ‘18 said. “We tried working with dining services, we tried the single stream recycling [initiative], but the students can’t do it on their own. We definitely need more administration support behind us.”
“We wanted to show the administration that we wanted a sustainability coordinator and it was something that mattered to us,” Rachel Barron ‘16 said after the rally. She is a member of multiple environmental organizations on campus.
Anticipating that students were preparing to rally for this cause, the college revealed to some students that they had already carved out budget space for a sustainability coordinator position.
“We learned that you were planning this rally and we wanted to make sure that we had the opportunity to communicate our support for the idea of a sustainability coordinator,” Byerly said at the rally.
According to Byerly, a sustainability model has been built as part of the connected communities model for the incoming class.
“[The sustainability coordinator will ideally play] an educational role in linking the college’s own sustainability efforts with the academic program, giving us the capacity to use the campus as a lab for sustainability practice,” Byerly said.
With the administration’s announcement of their plans to hire a sustainability coordinator came a shift in the motivation for the rally, Barron said. Instead, she said, it turned into a movement to support the administration’s decision to hire a sustainability coordinator.
In the collective effort to improve environmental sustainability here on campus, activism means more than rallies, said Haley Mauriello ‘16.
“I think it’s definitely moving in the right direction,” Mauriello said, “but I definitely think students should take more of a role in taking little steps to make [their lives] more sustainable.”
Byerly said she hopes to employ a sustainability coordinator as early as the spring 2016 term.