By Phoebe Roe
While successfully raising awareness about energy conservation and the environment, this year’s Week of Sustainability simultaneously highlighted Kenyon’s inability to sustain these conversations in day-to-day life. ECO, the environmental campus group, partnered with other organizations and groups on campus to host programs like the Beehive Design Collective, an activist art collective, and other targeted events to raise the community’s involvement in sustainability issues. “What’s cool about Week of Sustainability is that it’s a chance for people who don’t really come to ECO meetings or don’t really want to go hug a tree or s—t like that to learn that there are multiple levels of being environmental that affect you,” said Brett Miller ’15, a leader of ECO.
To prepare for this year’s Week of Sustainability, ECO worked hard to partner with other clubs and organizations around campus to try to draw more of an audience to the yearly event. “We collaborated with Crozier, Outdoors Club, Sustainability Office, Kenyon Community Alliance,” said Sarah Oleisky ’16, an ECO member and the Sustainability Office intern.
As part of her job as the sustainability intern, Oleisky oversaw an energy conservation competition which utilized Kenyon’s campus-wide energy monitors to pit dorms against each other to determine who could conserve the most energy over one week. Additionally, there was a panel on climate change featuring Kenyon professors and the week ended with an event hosted by the Brown Family Environmental Center.
“We actually had one event every day; we had a bunch of help from different groups and they were actually well-attended so this was such an awesome success,” Miller said. “I’m just so proud of it in every way, shape and form.” Though the events were well-attended and ECO representatives believe they were successful at spreading awareness about sustainability, ECO members said Kenyon should be doing more.
“I know they have the energy monitors going on, but I’m one of the leaders of ECO and I don’t even know what the f—k is going on,” Miller said.
Kenyon’s sustainability website features a “Statement of Sustainability” which reads, “Kenyon understands that creating a sustainable campus as well as showing respect and care for the environment should be among the core values that guide our teaching, research, service and administrative decisions.”
However, as this year’s Peirce plastic cup shortage and the YouTube-prone KEY Kiosk have proven, these sustainability promises may not always be carried out. “I really don’t think [the KEY Kiosk is] serving its purpose because I don’t even know about it,” Aaron McIlhenny ’16 said.
Miller hopes that in the coming years, sustainability will become a part of classroom discourse as well as everyday student life. “I don’t expect everyone to come to ECO meetings, but it would be so cool for ECO to make being environmentally aware more a part of campus life.”
ECO has started working on future projects such as applying for a grant to cover sustainability initiatives, including compensating student workers to collect Peirce dishes from around campus, a hoop house which will be completed later this year and a partnership with Wiggin Street Elementary School to assist with recycling.
“What draws me to environmentalism is that if you take just two seconds to throw away a bottle, you’re thinking about more than yourself — you’re thinking about all the people who are going to be affected [in] the whole country and the whole world,” Miller said. “Kenyon is a school that preaches ‘community’ so much, but so doesn’t follow through when it comes to that — I find that frustrating.”