STU drives on-campus sustainability with environmental policy revision

    Still of the flyers fr the STU Sustainability campaign for a more sustainable campus. (Submitted:Jonas May )

    In response to significant global environmental shifts, St. Thomas University is looking to redefine its current environmental policy. 

    The policy that has not been revised since 2011 aims to strengthen the university’s dedication to more recent progress in environmental governance.

    Janice Harvey, professor and coordinator of STU’s environment and society program, said that this was a long time coming.

    “It’s imperative that an institution of post-secondary education should be engaged and paying attention to this and preparing and engaging in a responsible way,” said Harvey.

    STU’s sustainability coordinator, Lauren MacDonald, has been a driver for this policy revision, recently hosting a sustainability open house to provide more information to students on campus.

    “We wanted to raise awareness about the revision process and in the campus community and give opportunities for people to provide feedback on this proposed revision policy,” said MacDonald.

    According to MacDonald, this is the first draft of the policy revision, as they are hoping to use any feedback from students, staff and faculty to produce the final revision that will be presented to STU’s board of directors.

    There is also a survey that was emailed to all students that will remain open until Feb. 24 that can be used to provide direct feedback on the current draft.

    So far, STU sustainability has received largely positive responses on the revised policy.

    “Generally, the feedback was positive in the sense that this revision process needs to happen, it was mostly students that were very interested in environmental sustainability on campus that were getting more involved,” said MacDonald.

    Both MacDonald and Harvey stressed the importance of this feedback to the draft revision process.

    “We’re hoping that, through this policy, to encourage a participatory and collaborative approach to environmental sustainability on campus, so having processes and mechanisms in place to involve people across the university,” said MacDonald. 

    “I think that a sustainability policy sets a tone for the entire institution and its whole intent of the policy would be to establish a culture of sustainability on campus,” said Harvey.

    According to MacDonald, the overall goal with this new revision is to alter the current policy to be more proactive and innovative to keep pace with other universities that are stepping up to address modern environmental challenges. 

    “The previous environmental policy did not mention climate change or pollution by biodiversity loss specifically, it was more focused on environmental compliance and stewardship in a localized context,” said MacDonald. “We’re hoping that this policy can be more of a holistic approach to campus environmental sustainability, recognizing student’s role to play in addressing global environmental challenges.”

    MacDonald said that STU sustainability will aim to have the final revised draft of this new policy completed by the end of the current semester, with hopes of the new policy be approved and implemented by the beginning of the fall 2024 semester.

    MacDonald will be hosting another drop in sustainability visioning event on Feb. 22 that welcomes all students to discuss a sustainable future for the university.