College invests in sustainability

(Photo courtesy of the College of Charleston)

When paying tuition at the College of Charleston, every student pays a $10 Green Fee to go toward funding sustainability projects on campus. With that being said, the Office of Sustainability is launching a few brand new products to promote green initiatives within the community.

A sustainable move-in project for residence halls was started this year and stainless steel reusable water bottles with the office’s graphic were handed out to incoming freshman. Water bottle refill stations are located on the first floors of Maybank Hall and the Tate Center, with an additional 6 stations to be added this academic year.

There is also vegetation growing on the roof of Liberty’s Residence Hall; the “green roof” was added this year, and if successful, it should reduce heat retention in the residence hall, and collect rain water.

For Brian Fisher, Director of the Office of Sustainability and political science professor, all of these things are not sustainability themselves, but by-products of living sustainably.

But what exactly does that mean? Apparently, the campus isn’t sure. Fisher asks the students in his sustainability class every semester and suggestions such as recycling, taking shorter showers, buying organic and biking, among others, inevitably come up.

However, Fisher believes sustainability is much bigger than that, and much bigger than the changes on campus. He said, “There are misperceptions on campus about what sustainability is. It’s not just recycling, recycling is downcycling. Sustainability is a value stream. Students questioning how things were produced.”

As Director of the office, Fisher said his job is to get students to think about what they value, and empower them to do research.

He said, “We generate research, helping students, faculty and staff. We’re informing the campus community, enabling them to make choices that enhance their well-being. We don’t tell them how to do things, there is no marketing, students do the work.”

Fisher believes that allowing student learning enables them to be “beacons” for solving complex problems. He said that this kind of student collaboration let’s them see how the world really works.

This student-led philosophy can demonstrated by the office’s funding of student sustainability projects. Any student or group of students can apply for up to $1000 in funding for a project.

If interested in getting involved directly with the Sustainability Office, visit their websites, or  Fisher also teaches a political science course about sustainability.

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Leah is a managing editor of CisternYard News. She is a senior, majoring in Communication.

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