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Earth Day Celebration, Farmers Market in jeopardy
Every spring, the university welcomes the Earth Day Celebration and Farmers Markets. But these events may not happen next year according to professor and Sustainability Committee member Kristen Richardson.
For the past five years, Richardson has helped run the Farmers Markets, which occur once a week in the early fall and April with the support of the Sustainability Committee, Facilities, Chartwells and other on-campus departments. But Richardson is leaving the university at the end of this school year. She is not sure who will have the time to continue these events next year, and said students have to step up to make them happen.
“If you like this kind of stuff and you think it’s important you’ve got to advocate for it,” she said. “If students don’t think it’s important, it’s not going to happen.”
But, according to a report, Quinnipiac students “don’t know, they don’t care [and] they don’t do” anything about sustainability initiatives on campus. The report, conducted last year at the university’s request by a company called Resonate, found the university was behind in its sustainability efforts as compared to 10 other peer organizations. (See above article.)
Junior Hannah Kissinger, the co-chair of the Earth Day committee, said not enough students care about environmental issues. For example, she has seen students put recyclable items in the trash and has trouble getting her classmates interested in sustainability initiatives.
“It’s the whole, ‘I don’t care, it’s not my money thing. It doesn’t affect me,’” she said. “It’s the same as turning off the lights. They’re like ‘oh I’m not paying for the electric, so I don’t need to turn off the lights.’ It’s that whole stigma that this issue doesn’t concern me and it’s a problem. We can’t tell someone to care, but the fact that they don’t care in the first place is terrible.”
Kissinger, who is also involved in various other sustainability organization including Students for Environmental Action, the Sustainability Committee and the Hiking Club, has done media blasts to try to get students to come to the Sustainability Committee’s meetings, but said few students do.
“[The Sustainability Committee is] an open forum for students to connect with teachers and share a common cause on campus, and out of those times I’ve done the media blasts there will be maybe two people that go,” she said.
The committee members said there is a need for the student body to understand the real meaning behind the Farmers Market. Students can develop this understanding by volunteering at the market, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering John Reap said.
“You don’t have a lot of attachment to something if you just go buy a cucumber,” he said. “But if you get involved with something—even on a simple level, you put up the tents, you arrange the vegetables or move the tables or something like that—that can lead you to ask a few questions, like why are local farmers coming here, why do we prefer that?”
This is what happened to Kissinger. Although she said she always cared about the environment, she found her passion when she joined several sustainability-related clubs last year.
“It really started last year when I decided that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “So I joined clubs to try to find myself and I realized that the environment was really important to me and I wanted to do something about it.”
Richardson said she wants students to take the lead on sustainability events like Kissinger has. Unless students show the university they want sustainability programming, these events won’t happen, Richardson said.
“If there’s not a push from students it’s not a priority,” she said. “And that’s the way it should be. These initiatives that I’m running in my spare time, I can’t do this forever. Students have got to step up and that would be an academic win. That’s what we want to happen.”