VIEWPOINT: Students: Work toward sustainability

When we think about our personal expenses, our thoughts are usually consumed by rising tuition costs, rent, groceries and weekend beer money. Few of us think about the extra costs from leaving the TV on while doing homework or forgetting to turn off the light when we leave for class.

These bad habits may not seem like a big deal, but multiplied by thousands of students every day leads to an enormous amount of wasted energy and a loss of thousands of dollars.

As students, not only do we need to become more conscious of our energy use, but we need to take the necessary steps to make our campus more energy efficient. The rising costs in other areas of our life are too great for us not to take advantage of the potential savings in efficient energy.

Some may be skeptical of the potential savings to be had by becoming more energy efficient. But the research team at McKinsey & Company released a report in July about energy use in the United States and concluded that the U.S. could potentially save $1.2 trillion dollars. If the U.S. can save this much as a whole, think about the money Marquette could save yearly by adopting more energy efficient policies.

The money saved by becoming more energy efficient can be put toward the pressing needs of students. More scholarships, financial aid and student programming could be made available.

According to the College Sustainability Report Card, Marquette has earned an overall grade of C+ when it comes to sustainability. One of our greatest areas for improvement is in student involvement.

Currently, Students for an Environmentally Active Campus is the only environmental group on campus and Marquette Student Government has become more active in environmental programs only recently.

Students need to become more involved in these groups on campus if real changes toward energy efficiency are to take place. Marquette administration will not make any significant changes until it sees overwhelming support from students.

There are some who believe there are too many obstacles standing in our way to convince the administration to implement energy efficient policies. Yes, there are challenges that must be overcome, but I refuse to believe they are too great to conquer. Initial start up costs may be hard to swallow, but returns will come soon after the implementation of these energy efficient policies. Before you know it, our start up costs will be covered and we can begin to count real earnings.

Becoming more energy efficient cannot occur overnight. It will take a lot of work between students, faculty and administration. This should not discourage us. We have the potential to save the university (and ultimately ourselves) from spending money on wasted energy.

Marquette recently established a program called Sustainability by Marquette to address issues of energy efficiency on campus. It has done a lot of great things in its short existence, including single stream recycling and pushing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification on new buildings. But, these accomplishments don’t mean there’s is not more to be done. What can be done about existing academic buildings? Or the residence halls where thousands of students live and use energy?

I encourage everyone to e-mail Mike Whittow, sustainability officer, to express the need for our campus to become more energy efficient. This time, students must be the one to initiate.

It may take just one e-mail, a hundred letters or a thousand phone calls to get the ball rolling. But this is an opportunity we have to make a real and lasting change at Marquette.

Not seizing this opportunity would be just as wasteful as leaving my apartment lights on all day.

Ally Davis is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences