After the Tents Came Down
As environmentalism grows around the nation, particularly in response to climate change, furthering green progress and the university budget have come into conflict at Ohio Wesleyan.
During the Board of Trustees’ fall 2013 visit, students protested over the university’s lack of a permanent sustainability coordinator after the temporary grant-funded position expired. This led campus administrators and trustees to meet with demonstrators to discuss the coordinator position and larger sustainability issues.
While President Jones said the administration would explore sustainability options as the budget allowed, little visible action has been taken a year later. This is due to low enrollment and decreased funds for the university, which have led to a school-wide hiring freeze.
This report is an in-depth examination of the results of the protest, OWU’s history of sustainability and a guide to departments and programs that could or do provide an environmental benefit.
Key findings of the semester-long research into green programs at OWU include the following:
- Some of the most visible green programs have ended in the absence of a sustainability coordinator.
- Less known, but often more effective, programs continue.
- Leaders of the student government are showing renewed interest in focusing on sustainability.
- Some past efforts, such as a solar array and signing a commitment on carbon emissions, stalled out.
- University departments, particularly Buildings and Grounds, are taking the lead in current work.
- Without the coordinator, the sustainability task force, mainly professors, struggled to find direction last year.
- The lack of a central green leader has led to questions on the accuracy of university sustainability information – part of the OWU website pertaining to sustainability is out of date.
In interviews, key players associated with OWU sustainability weighed in on the past events and how the university’s current financial situation has hindered progress this year.
Click on each person to hear their viewpoint.
Ellen Hughes Reilly Reynolds
Cajsa Ohlsson Aletta Doran Cindy Hastings
The Sustainability Task Force
Laurie Anderson Tom Wolber Shari Stone-Mediatore
Rock Jones Gene Castelli Peter Schantz Thomas Tritton