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Archive for Friday, August 22, 2008

KU gets ‘incomplete’ on green report card

August 22, 2008

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Tom Schmitendorf, who works at Kansas University's Recycling Center on West Campus, sorts through papers ready to be bundled. KU did not receive exemplary status on a recent report card of green initiatives at state colleges and universities, but officials say that may simply be due to incomplete paperwork on a survey.

Tom Schmitendorf, who works at Kansas University's Recycling Center on West Campus, sorts through papers ready to be bundled. KU did not receive exemplary status on a recent report card of green initiatives at state colleges and universities, but officials say that may simply be due to incomplete paperwork on a survey.

The National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education, released Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation, placed Kansas higher education entities 12th when it came to the push for green initiatives.

But of the 17 Kansas colleges and universities surveyed, only six achieved exemplary status. Kansas University didn't make the cut.

Jeff Severin, director of KU's Environmental Sustainability Center, said he was surprised that KU wasn't recognized for its efforts. Then he realized the university's failure to hit "exemplary" may have been his fault.

"We meet a lot of the criteria," he said. "I just didn't fill out some of the questions on the survey."

Kansas State University, Northwest Kansas Technical College, Johnson County Community College, Ottawa University, Pratt Community College and University of Saint Mary all received kudos for having either current sustainability activities or plans to implement them in upcoming years.

Severin said KU had met the same benchmarks. He pointed to the university's steadily growing recycling program and the development of a sustainability task force as proof of KU's efforts.

"We get so many of these requests for information we sometimes lose track of them," said Severin, explaining the incomplete survey.

The report card ranked the 50 states from best to worst in terms of how well school leaders supported green initiatives, the sustainability of campus operations and the study of sustainability in academics.

Washington led the states, but Willamette University in Oregon boasted the largest number of green efforts for one campus. More than 1,000 higher education institutions nationwide were surveyed.

The study showed that environmentally progressive operations had become one of the highest priorities in higher education. Not everything has improved, however.

Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training at the NWF, said the most troubling aspect of the study was the apparent lack of academic programs geared toward sustainability education.

Midwest universities received a C for their low number of multidisciplinary environmentalism programs.

Severin said that's not the case at KU.

"Last summer we went through the course listings and pulled out classes that had a sustainability element to them," he said. "We then listed those on the Web site so people could choose courses that had those components."

The 136-page report was insistent in the need for environmental education.

"The men and women who, in 20 years, will lead our businesses, educational institutions and government agencies are in school now," the report said. "We need to offer them the kind of academic and professional preparation that will ready them to envision and create a different kind of world."

Comments

pace 6 years, 3 months ago

At least Hamberg is gone. hope remains. Explain to the students how to use the paper recycling on campus. Pitiful job of community education.

aeroscout17 6 years, 3 months ago

BTW, I might remind everyone that you are not truly recycling unless you use recycled goods.

nobody1793 6 years, 3 months ago

"They don't even have a program to handle all of the leftover computers and parts. How much of that stuff ends up in dumpsters? Which do you think is more toxic or environmentally-unfriendly - newsprint, office paper or old monitors?"There was a company that contracted with KU to pick up eletronics and recycle them, but they went out of business. Disassembly and disposal of electronics waste is a big expensive problem globally, not just at KU.

RKLOG 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree with reduction of paperwork combined with recycling.

N_Trenched 6 years, 3 months ago

What was their grade from the fashion police?

Bronc 6 years, 3 months ago

Jeff Severin referenced KU's "steadily growing recycling"??? How about taking a look at the so-called electronic waste at KU. They don't even have a program to handle all of the leftover computers and parts. How much of that stuff ends up in dumpsters? Which do you think is more toxic or environmentally-unfriendly - newsprint, office paper or old monitors?

Rationalanimal 6 years, 3 months ago

Who the hell cares what a bunch of enviro-facists think?

blakus 6 years, 3 months ago

I worked for KU Recycling for two years as a student from 2005-07. I can tell you that when I was there we did recycle electronic waste (e-waste)... sometimes that is all we would do in a day during the summer. (I sure don't miss lugging around 1 ton of e-waste in 100 degree heat and loading it in a scorching metal trailer.) If KU Recycling had a company to process the e-waste they would still be picking it up on campus, but as stated above, there are no means as of now to do that. As for some of the comments above... if you use toilet paper, then it is likely you are using recycled paper and most cardboard products have some post-consumer waste in them (just to name a few). Reduction does come before recycling but that is a difficult concept to explain to a rabidly consumeristic society. The very concept of 'reducing' the usage of products would destroy the business models of many corporations.I am proud of what KU Recyling does on campus. It is remarkable that in one year, over 500 tons of materials were kept out of the landfill. http://www.recycle.ku.edu

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