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OPEN open to sustainability

BY REBECCA MORIN | APRIL 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa’s OPEN Party is focusing on getting the student body more involved in helping the environment.

The group, which is the only party now running for the UI Student Government, is pushing sustainability as one of the five goals of its platform.

“We hope to work with the relevant subcommittees of the Sustainability Charter Committee, which advises President Mason, to provide more support for the Office of Sustainability, specifically in the area of student volunteering and internship opportunities,” said vice-presidential candidate Jeffrey Ding.

Along with expanding volunteer opportunities, the party hopes to create an advisory team to help with investment responsibility for funds relating to sustainability.

“The group would be independent but would keep in close contact with UISG and the Office of Sustainability,” Ding said. “We hope this team would add a new voice to the decisions made by the UI Foundation and student-managed funds in the Tippie College of Business.”

Presidential candidate Patrick Bartoski said the group will be independent of the UI Foundation and the Office of Sustainability but will be advised by these two organizations.

“We would look for students who want to work hard, and help create responsible sustainable investments,” Bartoski said.

UI Office of Sustainability Director Liz Christiansen said in an email the only way for the university to meet the 2020 objectives is to continue engaging students.

“We’re making good progress toward our targets, but we need continued focus on the tasks and the engagement of the entire campus community to meet our goals,” she said. “Strong student leadership in sustainability is absolutely critical in building a greener campus.”

UI sophomore Ding is the UISG sustainability correspondent, and he hopes to continue initiatives started this year.

“The Green Initiatives Fund already exists at the University of Iowa,” he said. “We want to ensure it continues to support students in the upcoming years, and we want to also find a long-term, stable source of funding, potentially from the UI Foundation.”

Along with creating new positions for students, Bartoski and Ding said they will address the 2020 sustainability goals, which include improving the recycling culture and reducing carbon impact of transportation and university-related air travel. 

“We are creating local offset programs to reduce the reduction of  [greenhouse gases], and this will align with the 2020 goal of [greenhouse-gas] reduction,” Bartoski said. “We also want to create a network of stakeholders by bringing many environmental organizations such as EcoHawks and Take Back the Tap and form a committee to talk about what initiatives they are doing, what they can help each other with.”

Christiansen said she has worked closely with UISG and hopes to continue the working relationship with the future leaders.

“Current UISG President Katherine Valde and Vice President Jack Cumming have made sustainability an important part of their work,” Christiansen wrote in an email. “All year long, we’ve been working closely with them to identify ways to support biking on campus and increase student access to bikes.”


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