The College is currently in the process of crafting and finalizing a sustainability statement that will guide Kenyon to be more environmentally conscious in a world increasingly beholden to climate change.
The statement, according to an email sent out by Student Council on Feb. 11, will be used to make the College’s campus, framework and culture sustainable. The process began about a year ago, with the Sustainability Steering Committee (SSC), an environment-focused board made up of students, faculty and staff, overseeing the creation of the statement. The statement’s development is paralleled by the College’s current Strategic Plan. The statement is nonbinding, but the College committed itself to reaching carbon neutrality by 2040.
The draft of the statement’s first section calls on students, faculty and staff to consider their role in contributing to climate change, as well as their options for mitigating it. It then emphasizes the College’s directive in this matter, noting that “all college decisions will be informed by their climate impact, guided by the current scientific consensus.” According to Director of Green Initiatives David Heithaus, the SSC has all but finalized this section of the statement.
The next section will contain categories elaborating on specific values, categorized under four major titles: Education & Faculty Affairs, Investment, Stewardship of Natural & Built Environments and Campus Culture.
“When we consider the sustainability statement relative to ‘education’, we want faculty input and buy in; the ‘investment’ language needs to be guided by the finance committee of the board of trustees; ‘stewardship’ is the domain of maintenance, operations and our land management units; and ‘campus culture’ needs to consider the views and needs of the student body,” Heithaus wrote in an email to the Collegian.
In order to develop the ideal language, the SSC is currently engaging the necessary groups, including the Maintenance Department, the Brown Family Environmental Center, the Middle Path Partnership, the Board of Trustees and the Office of Green Initiatives to get feedback on the specific values.
“The idea is that the groups who stand to be most impacted when the values statements become action items have the opportunity to help articulate those values from the ground up,” Heithaus said.
The SSC enlisted Student Council to send out a survey via email on Feb. 11 for student input on the Campus Culture section. Heithaus said that the SSC is conducting similar surveys for the three other groups.
In an email to the Collegian, former Chair of the Buildings, Grounds, and Sustainability Committee Charlie Muller ’22 said that he hopes the College will become more transparent in their work towards sustainability.
“The ability for Kenyon to meet its goals for a sustainable future depends on measuring our collective energy usage, making the data accessible, and a culture that raises awareness of how our individual behavior has an impact,” Muller said. “The buy-in from the student body to make sacrifices, something necessary for a sustainable campus, will come from the recognition that the institution is leading the charge.”