Students discuss sustainability vision at inaugural forum
Radford University’s Student Sustainability Leadership Team hosted a forum Dec. 5 to provide students an opportunity to share their visions and ideas for improving campus sustainability.
More than 40 students attended the inaugural event held in Cook Hall. Many of the attendees represented such campus organizations as Student Government Association (SGA), the Green Team, RU Model United Nations, Geography Club and the Selu Conservancy Garden Club.
“The primary goal was to get interested student leaders together to share their ideas and visions for a sustainable Radford University and begin developing an action plan to get there,” said Sustainability Manager Josh Nease.
Over the course of the forum, students participated in group discussions, shared a meal and received a free stainless steel Radford University Sustainability water bottle, “to help promote the use of reusable containers and cut down on plastic,” said Ryley Harris, a leader on the student-led Sustainability Leadership Team.
Harris, along with fellow team leader Robert Arcuri and six Sustainability Office interns, helped organize the event.
During the two-hour gathering, students put forth and examined “ideas about how they'd like to see Radford University become more sustainable,” said Harris, a senior biology major from Virginia Beach. Those ideas led to small group discussions about sustainable dining, campus energy, recycling and partnership development.
“In these small groups, students collectively thought out strategies to address on-campus inefficiencies,” Harris explained. “Potential ideas included implementing a food waste recovery strategy in our dining facilities, establishing on-campus solar powered cell phone charging stations and expanding recycling awareness in residence halls.”
Nease shared with the students an overview of the university’s Climate Action Plan and its goal of reaching net-carbon neutrality by 2040.
The evening forum received “all positive reviews,” Nease said, “and students ranked reducing the campus carbon footprint as the most important environmental-related issue at Radford University, with energy consumption a close second.”
The Sustainability Leadership Team formed at the beginning of the fall semester to develop and coordinate events and projects designed to improve awareness of sustainability issues, promote participation in campus and community events and create a more sustainable campus.
The team will work during the spring semester to continue to further initiatives discussed at the forum and “encourage on-campus organizational support of sustainability,” Harris noted.
A second forum is planned for the spring semester.