Letter to the Editor

When I picked up the Kernel on Oct. 29, I read Drew Teague’s report on the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s “Sustainability Report Card” with the same sense of frustration and resignation with which I read the actual report when it was released to the Sustainability Office on Thursday.

Both Mr. Teague’s article and the “report card” are flawed at their cores — and they do an injustice to our sustainability efforts at UK.  Mr. Teague relies entirely on an interview with the director of communications for the Sustainable Endowments Institute, who suggests to him UK ought to undertake several initiatives on which the university is either already working or has already completed.

For instance, Ms. Paykin suggests that UK keep a greenhouse gas inventory.  UK’s Department of Facilities Management has already earmarked money for doing this — and UK has registered for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s reporting platform, which will allow us to measure our general sustainability against all other universities.  Ms. Paykin also suggests that UK move away from the use of coal.  While this is a huge issue on our campus, the Student Sustainability Council has been working with a design/build engineering project called “chargeBlue” which would offset some of the university’s demand for Kentucky Utilities’ coal with solar energy.

Finally, Ms. Paykin suggests that UK hire a “full time employee working in a sustainability office.”  UK has had such an employee — Shane Tedder — employed as the sustainability coordinator for almost a full calendar year.  All this begs the question — why did the Kernel not know about any of this?

I, as the president of the Student Sustainability Council, would gladly have spoken to Mr. Teague about the report card and explained to him that UK’s phantom drop in the “Student Involvement” category is unexplainable, as UK students are quantifiably more engaged in sustainability than they were in the past year.  I am also certain that Mr. Tedder, the sustainability coordinator, or perhaps even Bob Wiseman, the vice president for Facilities Management, would have provided Mr. Teague with a quote had he asked for one.

While it is absolutely certain that UK has a long way to go before we are an exemplar of sustainability, things like the Sustainability Endowments Institute Report Card do not help our efforts one iota.  It is certainly disappointing that the Kernel failed to hear anyone from the university before parroting its uninformed report.

Robert Kahne
Student Sustainability Council president