Three or four years ago, if you had asked me what going green meant, I probably would have responded with only a baffled and confused expression. Today, the environmental movement is a mainstream topic in the media, and the College of William and Mary has taken note of its impact on Mother Earth. I should attribute the College’s enlightenment to the Student Environmental Action Coalition, which brought the issues before the administration.
Just recently, the College allocated funds to integrate and improve its recycling program by providing more indoor and outdoor recycling bins in high – traffic areas; as well as in academic buildings. I applaud the administration and SEAC for continually taking productive and meaningful steps toward becoming more environmentally friendly. The Mason School of Business’s certification of Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and the composting of napkins from the dining halls are other great initiatives that I believe all institutions of higher learning should emulate. However, while the administration can enact increasing numbers of reform, the ultimate decisions lie with us; the student body.
For most of us, being environmentally friendly comes down to convenience. For example, if you were asked to turn off your air conditioner every other day (for those lucky few who even have that option), I imagine most of us, myself included, would elect to keep our rooms chilled and comfortable in the muggy, humid world of Williamsburg. In addition, if one chooses to place non-recyclable items in these new containers instead of looking for a waste basket, the containers have the potential to become contaminated, thereby defeating the purpose of the initiative.
The other concern I must raise is that of the green fee which is charged to every student at the College. While many of you NOVA kids may call me cheap, do not forget that they do admit a few lucky out-of-state students, and somehow I was one of those fortunate enough to slip through the cracks of the Virginia state school system. The Board of Visitors just recently voted to increase tuition by $1,088, which is not exactly change that spilled out of my pocket on the way to do my laundry. I agree that in-state tuition is a bargain for a school of this caliber, but even Virginians should take note of these increases, as more seem to be looming as federal and state funds continue to decline.
Forgetting all of the doom and gloom about student debt and the real world, I recognize that the green fee was voted in by students and that the majority of the student population supports these efforts. I, too, concur that these actions are necessary steps toward reducing our environmental impact. For as much as the administration can do, however, the decision ultimately relies on the individual. Therefore, I urge each and every one of you to walk a few extra feet to recycle and take advantage of what you voted to pay for. If, indeed, we are to become leaders of this world as College President Taylor Reveley claims, we must integrate the concepts of environmentalism into our lives now so that we may provide a model for others to imitate.
I apologize for using such grandiose statements, but the environment is a grandiose thing. While you may not go out tomorrow and instantly become a leader in the green movement, you can take small steps to make things such as recycling, or biking instead of driving a habit. The College has done its part in attempting to combine convenience with environmentally friendly actions.
Plus, with the presence of new recycling bins and cans inside the buildings on campus, I promise you will not have to leave the cherished air conditioning as much to do your part.