Fairfield University’s 2015 Campus Sustainability Action Plan has served as the framework for most environmentalist efforts on campus in recent years. This initiative, a product of the University’s Campus Sustainability Committee, embodies the strong interest in environmentalism amongst university community members.
“The Campus Sustainability Committee should serve as a clearing house for members to raise ideas and plan for their execution,” said David Frassinelli, Chair of the CSC and Vice President for Facilities Management.
“‘Sustainability’ covers a very wide range of activities,” said Kraig Steffen, Ph.D., Head of Environmental Sciences and associate professor of chemistry. “A major goal of the original Campus Sustainability Plan was to help coordinate all these efforts. Our greatest challenge is communicating between all the different constituencies considering sustainability efforts on campus.”
Both men cited the introduction of Terracycling here at Fairfield as a particularly interesting accomplishment by the CSC. This company recycles products that conventional recycling services will not such as personal care products and white board markers. Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield (LEAF) Club President Hope Marino ‘21 will manage the collection of these items and subsequent distribution to Terracycle.
“There are a number of changes we have made to the facilities that have impacted energy consumption significantly,” continued Frassinelli.
Entities across all factions of campus-life have been producing results: the Facilities Department continues their campus-wide transition to LED bulbs, First Year Experience groups include sustainability in their educational segments and the Office of Residence Life has decided to provide recycling bins for all freshmen and sophomore dorms.
“We are way ahead of where we were just ten years ago, but we still have much to do across the University to maximize our efforts,” asserted Steffen.
Fairfield University Student Association Vice President Tobenna Ugwu ‘22 said, “Fairfield’s current efforts are a step in the right direction, however, there is always room for improvement. I think there is an opportunity to shift the campus climate, to ensure that sustainability is an important part of initiatives and policies. FUSA has been working with the administration to see where Fairfield can improve, in order to achieve this goal.”
In the Fall 2020 semester, FUSA created their own Sustainability Committee to create a better, more unified communication between students and the Campus Sustainability Committee. This action has resulted in collaborations with the LEAF Club where the two parties formed a list of sustainability tips for Fairfield students. The document was sent to students via email and posted on FUSA’s Instagram stories.
“FUSA continues to work in conjunction with the Campus and Faculty
Sustainability Committees to ensure that the Campus Sustainability Plan is updated and
implemented, so that all members of the Fairfield community are kept up to date on this
important issue,” confirmed Ugwu.
Part of this ongoing work includes the push for Fairfield to hire a full-time coordinator as many other universities and colleges have done. Additionally, with the support and guidance of the CSC, FUSA has brought requests directly regarding fossil fuel divestment to the Board of Trustees.
“In the Fall of 2020, FUSA analyzed Fairfield University’s portfolio of mutual fund holdings for environmental sustainability,” said Matthew Little, Chair of FUSA’s Sustainability Committee. “We sent a letter to the Board of Trustees, urging the University to divest from mutual funds that contain corporations that degrade the environment, or at least shift the University’s weight within the funds if possible.”
FUSA has additional sustainability-themed events scheduled for the near future. “This March, we will be hosting the first-ever FUSA Sustainability Week, in which we will be both educating students on how to “go green,” as well as hosting fun and engaging sustainability-themed programs,” said Ugwu.
Other promising plans include the CSC’s development of a Sustainability app as well as continued Sustainability grants made available to students. The CSC also plans on having President Nemec approve the updated Campus Sustainability Action Plan before the start of the Fall 2021 Semester.
In the meantime, Ugwu and FUSA encourage and invite all students to join FUSA’s Sustainability Committee and contribute to the many ways in which the University continues to implement environmentalist actions. Students interested in joining the committee can email firstname.lastname@example.org.