New organization to collaborate student sustainability efforts

Molly Waite

Many student organizations work on sustainability projects, but too often the groups work in isolation from one another. The newly-formed Student Sustainability Partnership was created to bring together the leaders and active members of student-run organizations across campus to collaborate on future projects and provide a more consolidated effort toward sustainability at Grand Valley State University.

Emily Martin, a graduate assistant for Sustainable Community Development Initiative and an organizer of the partnership, said the partnership was started by the SCDI as a result of conversations with student leaders from the Student Environmental Coalition and the Student Senate.

“Since I began working for the Sustainability Initiative last semester, I have been impressed by how many different students and student groups are doing work related to sustainability,” Martin said. “However, it seems that these projects are usually isolated from one another and very little communication occurs between the groups … I feel that sustainability efforts at Grand Valley can be greatly increased if these groups work in collaboration with one another by sharing resources, best practices and ideas. And ultimately, I hope that it will help Grand Valley continue to be a leader in sustainability.”

Senior Kirk Wyatt, president of both the GVSU Chemistry Club and the Excellence in Science and Math Collaborative, joined the partnership to bring more attention to the projects with which he, and other sustainability-conscious students, are involved.

“There are so many different groups on campus that share the same sustainability goals as we do, and if we want to achieve widespread implementation of our projects, collaboration is essential,” Wyatt said. “Not only can we brainstorm ideas together, but we can also utilize the partnership to get the word out about our projects to students who care about them.”

The partnership has only met one time so far, but there was discussion of having a public relations campaign about the meaning of sustainability to create a greater understanding of sustainability within the GVSU community.

“Sustainability goes deeper than I think most students realize,” Wyatt said. “It’s more than just recycling and using cleaner energy sources. It’s about maintaining our resources for the next generation. It requires us to reflect on the impact that our choices make and to re-think the way we’ve always done things. By getting involved in sustainability, students become more aware of the impact their choices have and learn how to make more conscious decisions.”

Martin said she expects the group will enable other student groups to do an even better job at the projects in which they are already involved. By working with other groups each organization will have more resources available to them, such as promotion for events, volunteers and new ideas.

“The Student Sustainability Partnership is a great way for student organizations to share information and create efficiencies through collaborative efforts,” said Bart Bartels, project manager of the SCDI.

The partnership will also keep the student body better informed about important sustainability issues and will allow GVSU to better support its students.

“I have also struggled with answering the questions of students who learn about the Sustainability Initiative and say they want to be involved,” Martin said. “Up until now, we didn’t have a concrete answer to give them, but could direct them to various student groups. Now, we can tell them about the Student Sustainability Partnership and invite them to join.”

The next Student Sustainability Partnership meeting is April 19 at 5 p.m. in Lake Ontario Hall, room 167. Food will be provided. To RSVP, e-mail Emily Martin at [email protected]. For more information, visit the SCDI Web site at

[email protected]