UW-Eau Claire was recently added to the 2022 Edition of the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges. The guide features 420 colleges that were selected from a survey of 835 schools found across the United States and Canada.
The guide was determined through a set of questions measuring more than 25 data points, including the school’s waste-diversion rate, percentage of energy consumption derived from renewable resources, and more.
This marks UW-Eau Claire’s 11th year of being included in the Princeton Review’s green college guide.
“The university’s commitment to making the campus sustainable is what really makes UWEC stand out as an environmentally friendly college,” Brian Drollinger, director of UW-Eau Claire Risk Management and Safety department, said.
Drollinger also listed several initiatives that the Risk Management and Safety department, which was founded here at UW-Eau Claire earlier this year, are implementing to continue improving the campus environmental impact.
Drollinger said these initiatives include on-campus composting, a program for recycling plastic bags and working with faculty and staff to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse emissions on campus.
Maddie Loeffler, a fourth-year environmental geography student and the director of the Student Office of Sustainability, said she believes Eau Claire was added to the list mainly for its future plans for improving our environmental impact, but those plans still need to be implemented.
“Now, it’s really about implementing and staying true to what has been promised,” Loeffler said.
She also said a lot of UW-Eau Claire’s environmental goals fall short of what needs to be done in the face of the ongoing climate crisis.
“There are things like the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” Loeffler said, “but that’s not bold enough. It’s not ambitious enough to stop the worst effects of climate change.”
Dr. James Boulter, professor at UW-Eau Claire and faculty advisor for the Student Office of Sustainability, said the campus has made positive environmental progress, while reiterating it all depends on the realization of big goals that have been set.
Boulter said there are good things happening, including using locally sourced food in the dining halls, relying only on LED bulbs for the campus’s street lamps and the founding of the new Risk Management and Safety Department.
However, Boulter also said there is still a huge amount of progress that needs to be made, and that progress needs to be made at a systemic level.
“At the end of the day, we need to change the systems at play,” Boulter said. “Big companies like to tell you that it’s on us; that the individual needs to buy this product or not do this thing, but we need to fight the system in order to really make change.”
Loeffler said it’s important for students on campus to be vocal about their desire to improve UW-Eau Claire’s environmental impact.
“Speaking out in the ways that we’re able to, especially making sure administration knows this is something you care about, is the most important thing.”
She also encouraged students to get involved, whether through voicing their opinions at the Student Senate’s general assembly meetings every Wednesday or joining student organizations like Conservation Club.
In the same vein of Loeffler’s opinion, Boulter said UW-Eau Claire made it onto the Princeton Review’s list of green colleges because of their goals for environmental progress, but now it’s all about making those goals a reality.
“Be aware of what’s happening, and make your voice heard,” Boulter said. “Our campus leadership wants to do the right thing. They just need the will to do it, and that’s going to come from the students.”
Porisch can be reached at [email protected]