SGA votes on sustainability

by Kathryn Bennett / Beacon Staff • October 3, 2013

Sga mia
SGA members will work toward a number of sustainability initiatives.
SGA members will work toward a number of sustainability initiatives.

Eric Van Vlandren, the college’s first campus sustainability coordinator, spoke with members of the Student Government Association about ways they can get involved in his new programs during the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Van Vlandren graduated from Emerson in 1990, and said he had worked with several nonprofits before coming back to his alma mater this year to head new sustainability initiatives. Van Vlandren said he approached the college about creating the sustainability coordinator position and worked with them to design it.  

During his presentation to the SGA, Van Vlandren said he wants sustainable decision-making to become a bigger part of Emerson’s culture, offering his personal definition as a framework.

“Sustainability isn’t just about turning off lights, recycling, and composting,” he said. “It is a three-legged stool that also involves social justice and community service.” 

He discussed several of the initiatives he said he has been working on this semester, the most substantial of which is a community garden that would be scattered across campus. 

In recent years, several students have tried starting a rooftop garden at Emerson, but according to Van Vlandren, that is not possible for Emerson’s current buildings because of safety regulations. He said, though, that a rooftop garden would not be impossible for future dormitories, because they could be designed with safe rooftop access.

Instead of one centralized garden, Van Vlandren, along with students like Lindsay Geller, the SGA sustainability commissioner, is coordinating a series of small gardens to be set up in south-facing windows on campus. The first gardens, which will be in the Walker Building and Piano Row, will go up sometime this semester, according to Van Vlandren. 

There is currently an online petition that allows community members to pledge their support to—and spread the word about—the cause. Any office or dormitory can participate in the garden project, said Van Vlandren.

Van Vlandren said he hoped the SGA would do whatever it could to support sustainability at Emerson, which could include providing funds for students to attend sustainability conferences or to help sponsor events. His college-provided budget for this year is $25,000, according to Van Vlandren. 

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda included approving the midterm elections timeline and changing the name of Candidate Speech Night to Press Night. The midterms elections will take place in November. Freshman class officers, positions up for re-election, and posts not filled by the recent special elections will be selected during this time.

Freshman visual and media arts major Emily Solomon was also appointed to executive assistant. 

The Fall 2013 Special Elections results were released to the Beacon Wednesday night. Alicia Carroll will serve as the new visual and media arts senator, April Newell will be the journalism senator,  and Rebekah Brinkerhoff will be the performing arts senator. Jessica Slavin will serve as the class of 2014 secretary. 

According to Jasmine Reyes, the SGA elections commissioner, there was a write in candidate elected for the class of 2014 treasurer, but he has not formally accepted the position.