Council using collaboration as a tool for change


at on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

Column by Lydia Courtright

In the past, people have inquired as to exactly what the Student Sustainability Council is doing with the Environmental Stewardship Fee  and how that fee is being used to benefit students.

Although the changes we have implemented this year may not involve the installation of wind turbines or the demolition of the coal fired power plant located on campus, SSC has accomplished a plethora of initiatives fulfilling our mission as an organization.

According to our constitution, the SSC aims to promote a culture of sustainability at the UK by 1) equipping students as educators, professionals and future leaders in the field of sustainability; 2) creating bonds between university departments, student groups and outside organizations; and 3) recognizing sustainability as a merger of environmental stewardship, economic equity and social inclusion, in a way that will have both immediate and long-term benefits which can be enjoyed by all students of UK.

As a committee, we are proud of the steps we have taken thus far in our journey of creating an atmosphere on campus where strides are being taken toward sustainable initiatives.

To name a few, we have brought Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to campus in order to educate and spread awareness, created an internship that discovered solutions for storm water runoff which will save UK considerable amounts of money in the future. We have also expanded Wildcat Wheel’s fleet of bicycles to promote not only healthy living, but also alternative modes of transportation.

Undeniably grateful for the $1.50 each student has contributed to the Green Fee this year, the SSC has managed to make the $30,000 reach much further.

Through collaborative efforts with Student Activities Board to bring RFK Jr. to UK, Student Government Association to fund our storm water mitigation internship, and with Residence Life to provide Wildcat Wheels with a larger fleet of bicycles, we have not only created change but made the student’s money last longer.

Most recently, we have partnered with DanceBlue to create a more sustainable dance-marathon. Last year with 600 dancers, 5,000 paper cups were thrown away,  creating a tremendous amount of waste. This year, with an estimated 625 dancers, SSC has purchased bpa-free water bottles for every dancer in order to eliminate the amount of waste produced from the essential task of keeping the participants hydrated. Dance Blue is “going green” and we’re very proud to be part of the process.

The SSC not only wants to express our gratitude toward SAB, SGA, RSA and DanceBlue but also extend an invitation to other organizations to work together to make UK a more sustainable institution.

Collaboration creates the potential for greater change to be implemented and SSC is not only delighted about what we’ve accomplished in our first year on campus, but also excited about what the potential of partnerships will bring to campus in the future.