Amid the controlled cacophony of move-in day, first-year students were greeted by helpful students in green “Denison Sustainability Fellows” T-shirts. The Fellows were on hand to lug boxes, locate rooms, and point out recycling stations for bubble wrap and other move-in materials.
“As students and their families unpack, we’re helping to recycle things, like cardboard boxes,” says Beth Armitage, a member of the Denison class of 2013 and a Sustainability Fellow. “We’re saying hello, getting to know the new students and showing them how recycling works in the residence halls.”
Armitage is one of 15 spirited students who are designated Sustainability Fellows. They’re responsible for creating a heightened level of involvement with green activities across the campus, but especially in first-year residence halls. It’s a relatively new program here, one that promises to push beyond the familiar mantra of “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
“Sustainability is more than being environmentally friendly,” says Jeremy King, Denison’s sustainability coordinator. “In a global society, we must constantly evaluate how economics of trade, access to resources, and social justice issues play into the overall equation.”
“We want to help our community make changes that enhance sustainability, and we want to make those changes more an everyday part of life,” says Molly McGravey, assistant director for residential education and housing and the program’s coordinator. “So we’re focusing our efforts on first-year students and their resident halls. We hope that when they exercise ecologically and economically sound practices during their first year at Denison, students will continue to build on and develop that work during their time here.”
The Sustainability Fellows program is supported by Nia Judson McNeil ’85 and her husband, Collin. The McNeil's are “pleased to make this commitment to Denison so that students, the community, and society can benefit from this opportunity to improve personal efforts and foster greater awareness of the need to be active stewards of the environment.”