Fordham became a little greener this past week as United Student Government’s Sustainability Committee, as well as the Students for Environmental Awareness and Justice Club, sponsored this year’s Sustainability Week. The campus was alive with numerous events celebrating conservation, environmental upkeep, resource reduction and all things green.
In an effort to get more students involved in lessening our university’s resource consumption, the members of the Sustainability Committee organized talks, movie screenings and interactive activities. Fordham students left feeling motivated to both change how the campus operates regarding sustainability and increase awareness not only campus-wide, but from a global perspective as well.
Perhaps the most interesting event of the week, “How Many Earths?” took place in Campbell Commons and illustrated how destructive each student’s lifestyle is to the planet as a whole. In the activity, each student calculated how many planet Earths would be required to sustain a planet of humans living with their current lifestyle. Based off questions in different categories such as energy and electricity usage, transportation and consumption, ping pong balls were given to students to represent the land area required for each of their activities, and at the end, the results were tallied up and presented.
Duncan Magidson, FCRH ’16, the communications chair of the Sustainability Committee who led the activity, stated his lifestyle required three earths. “I would describe it as shameful, but that’s below the American average. What the activity really highlighted for me was that the bulk of my ecological impact was from plane travel, however I am also a vegetarian, which helped reduce my impact to a point below the American average.”
The week also consisted of a screening of the documentary, “The Cove,” highlighting dolphin hunting practices in Japan, and a discussion, in partnership with the College Republicans, on conservative action regarding climate change and global environmental challenges. Many students gathered in McGinley for a special program, aptly named “Dirt, Plants, and Food,” in order to plant their own basil plants.
The week then concluded with an event titled “Social Justice and Sustainability,” which featured various faculty members as well as important members of the Bronx community.
Anisah Assim, FCRH ’16, head of the Sustainability Committee, in reference to the event stated, “I think that conversations on climate change and sustainability often stray away from the human element of the problem. This is really unfortunate because environmental issues are more often then not also social justice issues.”
The event specifically looked at the relationship between social justice and environmental justice. “It is a cruel injustice that are impacted the most by climate change are often those the least capable of coping with it. The event did a great job of exploring that concept and it really tied together the week,” Assim said.
In the larger picture, Sustainability Week gave students an opportunity to engage with sustainability concepts and increase their own awareness. “Additionally, we hope that by hosting the week that students start to understand sustainability as a part of the Fordham experience and mission,” said Assim. The importance of sustainability on campus was clearly defined through the week’s events and activities, and it is the hope of the Committee that the dialogue only continues among the student body.
“I think that by far the largest problem on campus is a lack of understanding of sustainability as an intrinsic part of the campus culture,” said Assim. “While many students directly ask and care about sustainability issues, many students don’t see that as a commonality amongst all students. Having that kind of foundation for sustainability would significantly advance any efforts to increase campus sustainability.”