Sustainability survey results are in

Hallie Sutton

The results for the sustainability survey, which was available for students, staff, faculty and administration to provide their opinions on NMU’s sustainability efforts, were presented along with future goals of the effort on Friday, April 8 in a public forum.

Rachel Headings and Ella Skrocki, the two students administering the survey for their directed study this semester, presented the results to the public. The forum also served to answer any questions from the audience about the project, its purpose and its future.

“The survey was incredibly successful,” said Headings, a senior public relations major. “We were blown away by the amount of responses that we got.”

The survey accumulated 536 completed responses campus-wide. Most of them were text-heavy, Headings said, and therefore the forum focused mainly on trends they found throughout the responses given and the ideas, both positive and negative, that were suggested through the survey.

“We got a lot of really good support,” Headings said. “We felt like we had decent representation there. There’s always room for more, obviously, but for the time frame we’ve been working with this, and the way we went about doing things, I think that it ended up really well.”

The survey included responses from administration from 13 departments, faculty from 25, staff from 38, and students from 31.  A majority of the responders agreed that sustainability is part of the culture at NMU, and agree that a sustainability committee would be beneficial.

“I’m really pleased with, not only the specific results, but with the awareness that this has already started to spark,” said Sarah Mittlefehldt, assistant professor of Earth, environmental, and geographical sciences.

Two other forums, one for students and one for administration, faculty and staff, were held before before the public forum. The discussions and comments from the attendees of the three forums and the survey results will be presented to the Board of Trustees as a report, Mittlefehldt said.

The report will provide support for the creation of a sustainability committee on campus called Students, Staff, and Scholars Instituting a Sustainable University (SISU).

The first goals of SISU would be to inventory all of the sustainability efforts on campus and provide awareness and a vehicle of communication between all of them, through the committee. It would also provide a way to include sustainability curriculum in classrooms, and there’s currently a push instating green certificates within all majors, Mittlefehldt said.

“A big thing we noticed was that there there are so many initiatives going on on-campus that students may not know of,” said Ella Skrocki, a junior environmental sciences and sustainability major. “Students don’t believe anything is going on on-campus, but facilities are working really hard to improve sustainability in every building and develop funding for activities.”

After the report is presented to the board in June, Headings will use a summer scholarship to look at sustainability efforts at other universities to present with a design for the setup of the SISU committee, Skrocki said. After that, the committee members will focus on finding grants and funding for the committee.

“Our hope after we present the report to the Board [of Trustees] we’ll have at least one year of funding to get the committee off the ground,” Skrocki said.