The Western Student Association passed the resolution calling for Western Michigan University to research and develop a sustainable residence hall floor.
“This will be used as a tool to see student interest,” Nicole Davenport, the chair of the Sustainability Committee, said. “The end goal is for students to be able to actively apply sustainability to everyday life.”
The prospective residence hall floor will offer more immersion and exposure to sustainability. The floor will be monitored by a trained resident assistant so sustainability is actively maintained and learned about. The main goal for this hall floor is to change student’s life choices in an environmentally positive way. The floor will be similar to admission and structure of the Lee Honors College floors in Ackley Hall.
Davenport would love the hall floor to become both academic and interest based in order to create a balance in the community. As of now, the floor will be an interest community that students can apply to live in. As with all interest halls, participation is optional, but highly recommended. Although subject to change, there will be no extra cost from choosing to live on the sustainability residence hall floor.
According to Davenport, neighboring universities already have sustainable learning opportunities for their students. Eastern Michigan University offers a sustainability themed living and learning community. The University of Michigan takes part in the Planet Blue Ambassador program and has Planet Blue certification for residence halls. Michigan State University has Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE), a sustainability living and learning community for incoming freshmen and students specializing in environmental studies.
In comparison, there is currently no residence hall on WMU’s campus that promotes long-term sustainable behavior changes for students. However, WMU has committed to the Talloires Declaration, which is dedicated towards creating, supporting, and maintaining a sustainable culture. The Office of Sustainability is also highly active in the role of creating a residence hall floor for WMU.
The mission of the Office for Sustainability is to guide and assist the WMU community in fulfilling and growing its sustainability commitments.
WMU’s mission statement states that the university strives to create new knowledge, forms a basis for innovative solutions, leads to economic development, and makes substantial contributions to society by transforming wisdom into action. The university believes that a key aspect to this statement is creating a change in education to promote a sustainable future.
In accordance with this, President Dunn has signed the American Colleges and University’s President Climate Commitment for WMU’s campus to become carbon neutral by 2065. WMU will work with the Office for Sustainability in order to achieve that mission.
According to a Student Sustainability Survey, students are in favor of a sustainable residence hall floor. The tally of the final survey votes ranked the expansion of sustainable residential options fourth and also ranked the expansion of WMU’s portfolio of green buildings fifth.
The WSA ruled in favor of Davenport’s resolution. The group decided that the residence hall floor would incorporate student awareness that will reach out to the community.
The WSA’s main concern was the active effort to find and train individuals who are motivated and excited about sustainability as the floor’s resident assitant. They noted that it takes the right person and the right residents in order for this project to grow.
“I hope to see active participation,” Davenport said. “Not just students recycling, but reducing, too. Sustainability won’t be just a buzzword, but a life choice.”
The resolution passed with a vote of 42 for, one against and two abstaining.