I have watched as the momentum for campus sustainability has increased over the past four years. I have contributed to many of these efforts, from being a founding member of the Superior Acre Permaculture Garden to administering the campus-wide sustainability survey.
I have witnessed first-hand the passion that students, faculty, staff and administration have for the environment, but there is still a lack of coordination between different sustainability groups and communication about current sustainability programs.
An institutionalized Office of Sustainability would not only resolve these problems, but could also help attract new students to NMU.
During an interview with Brian Cabell (2016), author of Word on the Street, President Erickson explained that one quality of NMU that attracts a large portion of the student body is the natural atmosphere. These attitudes are not only true for current students, but for prospective students as well. An article published in MSNBC stated that Generation Z, the upcoming generation, ranks climate change and corporate social responsibility as major factors when making decisions to spend money.
If NMU were to invest in an institutionalized sustainability office, it would demonstrate its commitment to the environment and would help influence new students to enroll.
Creating an office of sustainability would also help improve current students’ opinions of the administration at NMU. According to the Transparency Forums conducted in the winter semester of 2016, a majority of students feel that their concerns are not being fully addressed by administration.
In the campus-wide sustainability survey also conducted that winter semester, 66 percent of student respondents agree that “An institutionalized Office of Sustainability with at least one full-time faculty member would be beneficial to NMU.”
By addressing the student desire for an institutionalized sustainability office, the current NMU administration would demonstrate that they are listening to student concerns and thus help re-establish trust between the two populations.