Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This Monday, Earthlust held the inaugural study break for “Green Advisors,” sustainability-minded students who encourage environmentally responsible behavior in the dorms. The GAs are currently a pilot present in only two dorms. In Wharton, LaDule Lako LoSarah ’09 and Mairin Odle ’08 will be keeping the “Palace” green, and in Willets, Lauren Richie ’09, Hannah Epstein ’10, and Greta Pittenger ’10 will be getting to the freshmen early.
Earthlust members hope to expand the program next year to include more dorms, eventually with the goal of making it a college-wide salaried position somewhat like the Student Academic Mentors. Earthlust member Elizabeth Crampton ’09 says, “it would be really cool to have GAs in the green dorms [Alice Paul and David Kemp]”–but over time, she’d like to see a Green Advisor in every dorm.
How do the first Green Advisors understand their position? Richie wrote in an e-mail that “to me it means someone who encourages environmentally responsible behavior around the dorm and who is also a resource for anyone who’d like to bring up concerns or have discussions about environmental topics… I wanted to be a GA because I know a lot of people care about issues such as global warming, but may not know some easy things they can do to help, and I’d like to help them with that.”
Pittenger explained that “our goal is to shift the mindset of Swatties- to get them more consciously aware of their actions and choices and how those choices affect their environment… most people are willing to make small changes in their lives to help the environment they live in, but either don’t know how or don’t think about it- for example, something as simple as turning the lights out or recycling the newspaper.”
Crampton says that the idea for Green Advisors first came up last semester. “We thought it would be good to have somebody reminding people that our halls do use energy… and there are things they can do about it.” They received program funding through a combination of the President’s Office, the Housing Office, and SAC, and they just applied for a Lang Center Swat Foundation grant which they hope to use in the spring.
Monday’s dorm study breaks involved making leaf design T-shirts. Richie wrote that “the response was good… a good number of people sat down and made T-shirts, and some even had discussions with us about some ideas they had about energy efficiency around campus and ways to get more people involved.” The GAs hope to hold more study breaks in the future, and Crampton even raised the possibility of green field trips to clean up sites or nearby national parks.
The GAs will be hosting a study break with Facilities before the end of the semester in every dorm on campus, “so that students can talk to Facilities about problems and inefficiencies they’ve found within their dorms and ideas they have for fixing them or making them more efficient,” says Crampton. “We think that a big part of the GA’s purpose is to serve as a funnel for getting student voices and ideas about sustainability on campus heard and made use of.”
She continued, “we want to work with the EVS staff in the dorms to answer any questions they might have about sustainability issues and get any feedback they can provide about how to make the campus more efficient and sustainable. Sustainability is an issue that is going to come into play for everyone who lives or works on this campus and we want to make sure everyone is a part of it.”