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SGA creates new sustainability committee

Concordia’s Student Government Association has a new committee this year that will be devoted to sustainability on the college’s campus.

“It was pretty apparent that (sustainability) was a big part of student life and something that needed to be addressed,” SGA Sustainability Commissioner Kristina Kaupa said.

SGA president Levi Bachmeier said the committee will deal with both environmental and financial issues in sustainability.

By working closely with Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) and the President’s Sustainability Council, the SGA Sustainability Committee will help students get more involved in issues they are passionate about.  Kaupa said the committee will direct students to organizations on campus that work on projects they might be interested in.

SGA Advisor Chelle Lyons Hanson added that the committee won’t take away from other organizations that deal with similar issues, but will connect people who have the same concerns.

“(We’re) interested not in stepping on people’s toes,” she said, “but pulling people together and analyzing where there are gaps.”

The committee will also work on a few projects throughout the year, though they have not been decided on at this point, Kaupa said.

The SGA Sustainability Committee will encourage students to make their voices be heard.

“(SGA wants to) bring to the table and maximize leverage that students have power to create change,” SGA Advisor Chelle Lyons Hanson said.

Student-led sustainability pushes are not new to campus. Occupy Lorentzen was a movement last March that received a lot of attention from students and faculty alike.  Andrew Carlson, a student involved in the demonstration, said Occupy Lorentzen was about showing students that they can voice their opinions.

“The goal was to raise awareness and to show students, ‘You don’t have to just sit on your butt,’” he said.  “We have bodies and voices that we can use.”

While Occupy Lorentzen furthered the sustainability buzz on campus, it was not the event itself that sparked the creation of the new Sustainability Committee.  Rather, the student body’s general interest  in sustainability was what led the SGA Executive Team to establish the new committee.

“I think they viewed (Occupy Lorentzen) as being kind of a call: We need a central place for students to go so they know how to voice those opinions,” Kaupa said.

The sustainability movement on Concordia’s campus began a few years ago with the creation of the Sustainability Fund, Hanson said.  Students can apply for the fund to work on sustainability projects on campus.

However, sustainability fell under a larger, ambiguous umbrella within SGA, which kept important issues from receiving the attention they needed, she said.

The new committee was created to remedy this dilemma.

Hanson said the current sustainability issues are daunting and require the work of different minds.  The committee can create space for people to work together on these problems and promote options, she said.

“The issue, unfortunately, is big enough for all of us to work on,” she said.

SGA Sustainability Committee meetings will be open to students.  Meetings are every other Thursday starting Sept. 12 at 9:15 p.m.

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