UISG backs creation of sustainability committee


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University of Iowa Student Government leaders believe students should play an important role in helping the university achieve its 2020 vision.

UISG officially endorsed the proposed creation of a Sustainability Advisory Committee at its meeting on Tuesday and detailed plans to create it.

The Sustainability Advisory Committee, proposed as part of the university’s goal to meet certain sustainability targets by 2020, would consist of four faculty members, four staff members, and four students — two undergraduates, one professional student, and one graduate student.

UI President Sally Mason laid out the sustainability targets on Oct. 29, 2010, including reducing the carbon impact of transportation, achieving net-negative energy growth, and decreasing the production of waste.

The committee would also have several administrative liaisons, including the director of Facilities Management, the director of the Office of Sustainability, the director of Parking and Transportation, and representatives from the UI Hospital and Clinics as well as the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

Kelsey Zlevor, UISG's sustainability liaison, said the committee would advise Mason and the UI Office of Sustainability on how to move forward with project ideas to meet the 2020 goals.

“This is not just the work of the administration,” she said. “Students make up a huge part of campus, and since we are consuming and creating a large amount of waste, it’s important that we are a part of this process.”

George McCrory, a communications specialist in the UI Office of Sustainability, said the office welcomes student input.

“We’re always looking for students to provide us with ideas about how to move forward with sustainability on campus,” he said. “We want to let them know how they can help us and how we can help them.”

UISG would be tasked with assigning students to the committee, and the positions would be open to any student through an application process beginning in March.

UISG Speaker of the Senate Aaron Horsfield supports the committee.

“[The committee] will focus not just on us but will bridge the gap among staff, faculty, and students,” he said, noting that the committee would be a collaborative effort.

Zlevor said the committee would balance concerns about cost with long-term benefit.

“As with anything, we have to do a cost-benefit analysis on all of our ideas,” she said. “Some may be immediately more costly, but down the line will save money. We have to look at what’s feasible and what will have the most lasting impact.”

Though one senator wondered how the proposed committee would affect existing UISG sustainability efforts, the resolution on the committee passed unanimously, and Zlevor said several other governing bodies at the university must approve the committee before it will be created.

“Hopefully, if we can get through UISG, all the others will go smoothly,” she said before the meeting. “The student government is the first piece.”

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