By MOLLY HODGES
Members of the University of Mary Washington are working to not just reduce the school’s impact on the environment through avenues such as a school-wide sustainability campaign and the creation of a sustainability council, but also to bring these efforts to the forefront of the school’s image.
For example, the school recently added a sustainability tab to the university’s website which leads to information about its main environmental programs.
The President’s Council on Sustainability (PCS) was created in 2009 as part of the university’s Strategic Plan.
The PCS differs from other campus organizations because it is composed of one-third faculty, one-third staff and one-third students, according to PCS Co-Chair Melanie Szulczewski, a faculty advisor for the group.
“The PCS is charged with the creation of a five-year plan and making recommendations on sustainability issues and policy, developing strategies for implementation of sustainability initiatives, and providing a cohesive public face for UMW sustainability efforts,” according to the UMW website.
While UMW wants to improve sustainability at the local level, members of the PCS and Ecology Club are also involved in several large-scale environmental projects.
For example, students have been active in the protesting the proposed Tar Sands Pipeline and voicing support for the “Keep the Ban” Campaign, seeking to continue Virginia’s ban on uranium mining.
On Nov. 6, a group of 25 UMW faculty, staff, students and alumni took part in the Tar Sands Pipeline Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. Approximately 12,000 people joined hands to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and encircled the White House nearly three or more times in places.
“We can’t stop Tar Sands production in Canada, but we can stop what happens here,” said junior Samantha Corron, an Ecology Club officer and a member of the PSC.
UMW Facilities Services are making sustainable choices for the management of the campus landscape and grounds.
According to Director of Landscape and Grounds and member of the PCS Joni Wilson, all new buildings on campus must qualify for at least a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating.
LEED certification is determined by several factors. For example, the way in which materials are recycled or reused during development or deconstruction.
As part of UMW’s Nutrient Management Plan, fertilizer is used sparingly and fertilizers containing phosphorus are never used.
According to Wilson, UMW took a sustainable step when designing the landscape for the new Anderson Center. All plant material is native to the area.
According to the UMW website, “starting in the 2011-2012 academic year UMW will be implementing a sustainability campaign called ‘do one thing.’”
The Do One Thing campaign calls on the UMW community to pledge to make one change that will improve their personal sustainability.
There are four areas of sustainability outlined by the UMW website: cultural, social, economic and environmental.
For example, through the campaign Hurley pledged to recycle at Brompton and to use organic cleaning solution on his boat.
Szulczewski said that Hurley and Vice President for Administration and Finance “they’ve been very supportive and encouraging, and so I do think sustainability is going to be even more prevalent on campus and in our community.”
UMW students now have the option to minor in environmental sustainability, a program that was started in 2010. According to Szulczewski, more than 25 students have declared the minor.