Letters: UVic Sustainability Project—In Action!

In 1999, two environmental studies students on campus questioned why our campus was creating so much waste, so they dug deeper. They needed qualitative and credible evidence, so they conducted 13 sustainability audits on campus in environmental health energy, water, curriculum, and waste management to provide recommendations to the campus administration.

The momentum began to pick up, and events such as Earthfest, the Environmental Round table, and the speaker series became recurring events that students and the campus community looked forward to. It wasn’t until 2003 when a referendum was passed giving the project $1.00 of funding from each undergraduate full-time student. It’s a closed-loop system because the group gives back to the campus community by donating to SPOKES, the bicycle lending program, and offers sustainable projects grants up to $500.

It was UVic Sustainability Project (UVSP) members that approached Zap! Copy, and asked them to switch to ethically sourced paper. Passion drives, and maybe administration will get in the way at times, but nothing is more powerful than student voices. With most student-run organizations, there are quiet moments, partly because of the lack of consistency due to high turnover, but it’s our campus, and all of our voices need to be heard. I want to give a huge thank you to Emily Thiessen and Miranda Maslany who’ve worked together with multiple advocacy groups on campus to finally produce the UVision report—a campus plan from a student’s perspective.

This year, UVSP gained momentum again, greater visibility, and re-defined its purpose.

Our vision is a socially and ecologically sustainable campus community.

Our mission: catalyzing and fostering leadership in sustainable ideas, projects, and action!

We take this at heart throughout the decision-making process. Sustainable projects can range from art, to engineering, to everything between. We have regular bi-weekly Thursday board meetings at 6:30 p.m., and are welcome to answer any questions.

Leat Ahrony is the Communications, Marketing, and Programs Director for the UVic Sustainability Project. She can be reached at sustainability@uvic.ca.

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