The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Think big and think green

After last week’s announcement that the UW System’s Board of Regents will suspend any more admissions to the 26 state schools, Chancellor Donald Mash addressed the issue at Tuesday’s University Senate meeting. Mash said this decision has a large impact on certain universities that did not have their enrollment fulfilled, such as UW-River Falls.

This 2011-2012 school year I have had the honor and privilege to serve as an intern with the Student Office of Sustainability.

In my time with the Student Senate commission responsible for UW-Eau Claire’s $200,000 plus green fund, I have witnessed the SOS mature into an efficient sustainability machine. This cutting- edge student sustainability group is here to stay in a big way.

This past year the SOS successfully implemented dozens of projects and events.

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We funded the installation of new water bottle filling stations around campus, which makes filling reusable water bottles easier and reduces the amount of throw-away plastic bottles.

The SOS also purchased 22 Green Revolution systems on the indoor cycling bikes at the University Recreation and Sports Facilities allowing users to generate electricity while cycling.

The SOS has built strong relationships with the university’s administration, facilities and residence halls.

This fall, the SOS helped improve the campus’ exterior lighting by providing funding to upgrade exterior parking lot lights to high-efficiency LED lighting. We also helped purchase lights for the newly renovated Schofield auditorium.

SOS members have worked with the library and residence halls to improve printing efficiency by funding the installation of new duplex printers, halving paper usage and has helped fund a pilot project for the installation of Worm Composting.  Worm Composting is a composting technique that uses worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into soil.

Our sustainability concerns and ideas are being considered in the university’s master planning process — specifically relating to the creation of an outdoor classroom, sustainability initiatives at St. Bede’s in Eau Claire and in all of the new buildings on campus.

The SOS also helps various student organizations around campus make their sustainability projects become reality.

SOS helps fund The Foodlums Organization’s campus garden and bee hives where fresh, sustainable produce and honey are produced right on campus. We regularly work with the Conservationists and the Student National Environmental Association to promote recycling and other sustainability initiatives.

We encourage organizations to contact us with sustainability initiatives that we can help make a reality.

In a joint venture with the Parking and Transportation department and the Student Senate’s Finance Commission, the SOS helped fund an initiative called Zimride to help students, faculty, and staff more effectively coordinate car pooling to and from campus. Sign-up to participate in this free service today at:

We have also been working closely with the Environmental Action Center to implement a bike-sharing program. This program allows students to check out a bike for an entire semester or a year for a small fee which they can use to get to and from campus.

Both the bike-sharing program and Zimride are efforts to curb the use of vehicular transportation at Eau Claire for the sake of sustainability and because of the diminishing availability of parking campus-wide.

After six months of preparation by several staff members and myself, the Student and Community Outreach on Rental Efficiency Program is starting to audit off-campus student rental properties.

$CORE is an SOS program designed to help off-campus renters lower their utility bills through peer-to-peer education, free home audits, and free
conservation materials.

This program is entirely funded by Xcel Energy and therefore is truly free to students.

Most importantly, if you and half your roommates are present during the audit, a free Jim’s pizza is ordered and delivered.

$CORE is targeting 100 homes this spring semester but look for its expansion next fall.

The future of the Student Office of Sustainability is looking brighter each day as we move into larger impact projects.

It is an exciting time for sustainability at Eau Claire and I encourage you all to get involved.

Ask yourself what role you can play and what next great sustainability program, initiative, event or campus-wide policy you can bring to the table.

I encourage everyone to think big and think green!

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Think big and think green