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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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MSSA begins university environmental initiative

by Matt Sauer

Issue date: 04/02/09 Section: Senate News and Notes
The Minnesota State Student Association began an initiative this semester to promote environmental awareness throughout MSU.

MSU's university-wide Environmental Committee, whose voting members include MSSA Vice President Murtaza Rajabali, was formed early this year. The committee hopes to assist the university in taking the necessary steps toward building an environmentally- responsible campus and provide any required support toward sustaining eco-friendly operations.

Among topics discussed so far in the Environmental Committee's meetings is a campaign to inform the university and its members of steps that MSU has taken in the past to reduce its carbon footprint.

According to a transcript compiled from its Jan. 28 meeting, the committee notes MSU's eco-friendly initiatives began years ago, when the university switched to a cleaner burning fuel and cut pollution generated by the campus in half.

The committee said MSU has reduced its release of the air pollutant nitric oxide from 45 tons a year to less than 11, despite the increase in both the size and population of the campus. The committee means to continue support of initiatives that would further decrease MSU's impact on the environment.

The university's recent switch to eco-friendly paper, along with the implementation of double-sided printing at its MavPrint stations, is a notable continuation of this trend but has left some students torn.

"I'm all for an [eco-friendly] campus, but sometimes it seems like businesses are using the 'green' idea just to make more money," said junior John Lunde. "I was actually a little frustrated when I printed my first assignment this semester and found out I was paying twice as much for a piece of paper. It's good we're using less paper by printing on both sides, but [MSU] is still charging the same amount. The least they could do is lower the [price per sheet]."

The Environmental Committee is also lobbying for MSU President Richard Davenport to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC), a nationwide collaborative effort between university presidents that encourages its members to take decisive steps toward improving the environment.

The commitment asks universities who pledge to begin immediate action by setting up pollution reduction offices within two months of signing and providing students with information on environmental sustainability. Within a year, schools must complete a comprehensive emissions inventory, and by their second year of membership are required to provide the PCC with a concrete plan by which they will reduce environmental damage.

"I would be all for MSU becoming a member of the [PCC]," said sociology major Nancy Jorgenson. "But I can understand why President [Davenport] might be waiting to sign it if he doesn't feel the campus can hold up. Either way, there's no reason we shouldn't be taking some of these steps anyway, regardless of if we've signed the [PCC]."

MSU would join more than 450 other universities in the United States who have joined the PCC, including Arizona State University, Chicago State University and Winona State University.

Other plans for the MSSA's Environmental Committee include the integration of efficient lighting and electrical equipment campus-wide. This would include computers and technology stations equipped with power-saving programs, efficient lighting fixtures and motion-sensing lights that turn themselves off when classrooms are empty.

Matt Sauer is a Reporter staff writer