The push to go green has attracted the attention of the Student Government Association with support from the Sustainability Club at the University of South Dakota.
SGA President Tyler Tordsen said Senate Resolution No. 2, which outlines SGA’s stance on sustainability, is in its early stages, but will be the first step in what will be an on-going priority for his administration.
“We’ve talked enough, now we’re ready to start introducing bills and starting to sit down with the different people we need to sit down with to make this happen,” Tordsen said.
Senate Resolution No. 2 passed at Tuesday night’s meeting. Tordsen said the resolution is more of a symbolic template, but still necessary.
Some of SGA’s short-term goals include a bike rental program, more refillable water bottle stations in high traffic areas, such as the Muenster University Center, and improvements to campus recycling.
In addition, Tordsen said Senate Resolution No. 2 will allow for sustainability to remain a focus in the long run.
“We’re hoping by the end of this year, by the time our term is done, that we’ll be able to look back and say that we’ve accomplished some of (these projects) and be able to make sure that it’s long-term,” Tordsen said.
Sustainability has been a focus of Tordsen’s since last semester when he first took office in March. He said to accomplish the goals, SGA will partner with people and organizations in the community, university and student body.
Tordsen and other SGA members have met with the city manager, the mayor and the director of the Chamber of Commerce for various ideas, such as how to make recycling improvements.
One obstacle Tordsen said SGA will encounter is the building-to-building basis in which sustainability is handled at USD. Senators will have to meet with the director of each building on campus individually to implement any changes.
Last year graduate student Nolan Schroeder, a Sustainability Club member, agreed with Tordsen’s ideas and said an effective strategy for student leaders and faculty would be to have a sort of “task force” for sustainability.
“A lot of the responsibility to be sustainable falls on individuals and not really a collective,” Schroeder said.
Last semester, Schroeder did a research project on campus recycling for a class. Schroeder started the website usdsustainability.com this summer.
The website outlines ways to live green on and off campus, allows students to share their own ideas and contact USD President James Abott about sustainability concerns.
“It was a lot of fun to put together, and it’d be more fun to see if what I outlined gets acted on,” Schroeder said.
Funding for new sustainability efforts will be taken on by SGA, Tordsen said. He said smaller projects may be covered by awareness campaigns, but more costly projects will require sponsorships from local businesses.
SGA and the Sustainability Club will be collaborating this year to get things moving at a faster pace, he added.
Sustainability Club Co-President Morgan Appley said she’s encouraged so far by the motivation she’s seen in the club’s members. She has the same view as Tordsen — this year is the time to start making sustainability a focus at USD.
“We have a long way to go, but in a way that’s good because we can all have an effect on it and help it get there,” Appley said.
Appley said one of sustainability’s major goals is to normalize green practices in the student body.
“I think that in South Dakota we’re probably a bit behind because it’s not really rooted in the culture,” she said. “I’ve always said South Dakota is consistently 10 years behind. People need to see it as the norm so they can feel like if they’re not doing it, they’re not with the times.”
Tordsen said he doesn’t think USD is necessarily behind in green practices, but should be more of a leader when it comes to sustainability.
“We see opportunity here,” Tordsen said. “Especially from the student government side, we want to do whatever we can to better the university and the student experience.”
(Student Government Association senators meet in the Muenster University Center Monday night to discuss sustainability. Ally Krupinsky / The Volante)