In order to raise awareness about environmental justice issues, the University of Dayton’s Sustainability, Energy and the Environment Initiative group sponsored Sustainability Week from Oct. 21-26.
Each day of the week focused on energy awareness, food awareness and concludes today with a no-impact day. According to UD Sustainability Club member Jarred White, SEE’s vision for the week was to show UD’s energy footprint and to ask how to eliminate our impact on others and the Earth.
White said he believes that UD students should care about sustainability because it addresses worldwide issues that the current generation will face in the near future.
“We are all at UD gaining skills and knowledge to help us become the leaders of tomorrow,” White said. “It is important that we acquaint ourselves with a global perspective in order to apply our skills in the best way possible.”
According to Robert Brecha, coordinator of the SEE Initiative, Sustainability Week applies to all majors and careers. Its core values are environment stewardship, social justice and economic functionality. The week does not pertain to a specific political party or religion as the act of sustainability is understood and practiced by all cultures to help preserve societies and help them to progress.
The SEE Initiative at UD seeks to combine curriculum, research, community outreach and campus action regarding issues of sustainability. Students working toward a SEE minor were encouraged to work with other student clubs to help educate all students in practices, such as the way the campus uses energy and how UD’s food system operates. Other non-student groups that helped with Sustainability Week are Dining Services and Facilities Management.
“The minor [in SEE] is interdisciplinary,” Brecha said. “We want students of all majors to think about a SEE minor as a complement to their own major degree.”
White said there are several environmental justice issues UD students should be aware of, including energy and resource usage, buying and eating local organic foods, responsible waste handling and UD’s energy footprint. These issues were covered during the week with events like a solar power presentation on Tuesday, a “Chopped” competition on Wednesday and a Rally for Action on Thursday.
An organic pancake breakfast was held Wednesday morning in KU plaza.
“We take for granted things like our clothing made halfway around the world, or our electricity and paper at the cost of destroying ecosystems,” White said. “Knowing the history of our belongings has the power to benefit the networks in which we trade goods and influence a lot of social justice movements.”
The Day of Action on Thursday was the most serious day of Sustainability Week as it strove to open the eyes of students to the severity of world issues. There were art displays and tables set up to promote various issues that the student groups involved in production of Sustainability Week feel deserve attention. Thursday’s events concluded with student speeches and a candidate forum.
After the Day of Action on Thursday, Sustainability Week concludes Friday with No-Impact Day. Students are introduced to what it would be like to not leave a carbon-footprint on Earth through various information tables outside of Kennedy Union. In addition to the displays, SEE sponsors individual challenges for students with eco-friendly prizes.
White said he encourages UD students to remember that sustainability is the future and we should shape it together.