New Committees Will Promote Sustainability, Socially Responsible Purchasing

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.

Two new college committees are currently in the process of being formed. Although neither one is yet named, one will focus on planning for long-term sustainability, while the other will focus on instituting and recommending socially responsible programs. Both committees will include a combination of faculty, staff, and students.

The sustainability planning committee intends to “look 20 years out and make recommendations about how we should get from where we are now to where we think we should be,” said Carr Everbach, a co-chair of the committee. It is operating under the purview of the Leadership Committee, “which looks into all the ways that Swarthmore should be a leader among institutions of higher education” as a part of the “Swarthmore of 2025” campaign.

These recommendations will be large-scale, potentially involving “big money”; one possibility cited by Everbach was an eventual switch to biofuel heating for the College. He also said that one particularly likely recommendation was the formation of a “sustainability management committee,” to deal with “day-to-day issues such as drying racks” for laundry rooms.

The committee will operate mainly through this year; its recommendations will “likely [be] adopted as part of the planning process during this current academic year.” The students on the committee — there will be three — have not yet been chosen, though the other members have — there are two from the Engineering department, one from Economics, and four from various branches of the staff, including the other co-chair, Ralph Thayer.

The other new committee will attempt to ease the process of student recommendations for socially responsible projects, and in particular plans for ethically made purchases. The Kick Coke campaign, for example, probably would have gone through this committee, had it existed at the time. Members of the committee were not available for contact; however, it will most likely work essentially as reported last spring.

Both committees will serve important roles for the College; hopefully, they will be able to both streamline processes that have been too complicated in the past and provide a clear long-term vision. Everbach feels that “it is high time something like this happened,” while Peter Gardner ‘08, Student Council president, is “optimistic that [these committees] will be effective, well-run, and productive additions to the institution.”