From increases in sustainable projects and campus events to new collaboration between administrators, faculty, staff and student leaders, the University of Mississippi made impressive strides in the 2014-2015 academic year. Check out a few highlights from the year:
Engaging Campus Leaders – The UM Sustainability Broad Council, including representatives from the Chancellor’s Office, the Department of Athletics, and Ole Miss Dining Services, as well as the Associated Student Body and the Graduate Student Council, held its first-ever meeting in February. The council was established to further institutionalize sustainability and enact measures recommended by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), signed by Chancellor Dan Jones in April 2014. A collaboration of more than twenty different offices and organizations across campus, the Sustainability Broad Council will oversee the development climate action plan in the coming academic year.
Biking Boom – The UM biking community had a very active year with the formation of the Biking and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), aimed at improving and increasing safety for active transportation options on campus. The Departmental Bike program was launched, and various biking events were also held like Pedal and Picnic, bike maintenance workshops, and Bike Month in May to encourage the Ole Miss students, faculty and staff to choose two wheels over four.
Composting Expansion – The UM Composting Team had a very impressive year by converting 30,820 pounds of campus food waste into viable soil—a 1030 percent increase over the project’s first year. The team of four student interns collects food scraps from dining facilities including the Rebel Market, the Residential College Marketplace, Freshii, and Ole Miss Catering.
Student Involvement – The Office of Sustainability’s Green Student Intern Program (GSIP) had its largest cohort of student interns this year with eight in the fall semester and 13 in the spring, including two graduate practicum students. In addition, campus groups and student organizations were noticeably involved in sustainable opportunities, such as the Greek chapters who competed in the Green Cup competition.
Record-Breaking Recycling – During fall 2014, the university’s game day recycling program had its most impressive season since its implementation in 2008! Thanks to the efforts of more than 400 game day volunteers this season, the Green Grove Initiative was able to collect and recycle 18,503 Solo cups and more than six tons of recycling from tailgating areas. Most importantly, UM achieved its highest season waste diversion ever, improving from last year’s rate of 0.97 percent to 2.96 percent.
Food-Focused Events – In October, the Food Day 2014 celebration included three campus events including an on-campus farmer’s market and festival featuring local farmers, a mobile farm bus, and displays by campus and community groups. The celebration also included a screening of “Fed Up,” hosted by Students for a Green Campus, and a student panel discussion focused on “The State of Food at UM.” In November, Real Food Rebels hosted a local Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Oxford Canteen chef Corbin Evans.
Implementing New Sustainability Programs – The EcoReps program had a successful inaugural semester this spring! Six student representatives participated with this new leadership opportunity and encouraged sustainable changes within their residence halls. Additionally, a new sustainability-oriented freshman interested group (FIG) is in the works for this upcoming 2015-2016 school year. The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Department of Student Housing, the Residential College South and the College of Liberal Arts, will host a group of students who will live in the Red, Blue, & Green community within the RC South. From field trips to lectures, to work in the community garden or shared meals in the dining hall, members of the Red, Blue, & Green FIG will have ample opportunity to learn and experience environmental sustainability and conservation together as a community.
Green Week 2015 – In April, the Office of Sustainability hosted Green Week 2015 in honor of Earth Day with a variety of organized events including the Tree Trail Walk, Sustainability Fair, Keynote Speaker Paige West, EcoGala, Pedal and Picnic, and Arbor Day Celebration. Partners included UM Landscape Services, the environmental studies minor and Students for a Green Campus.
Innovative Project Proposals – In fall, the UM Green Fund Committee approved and funded six new sustainable campus projects including a cargo bike for the Nutrition and Hospitality Management departments to easily transport items, a new hydration station in the Robert C. Khayat Law building, and a solar-powered dock installation to charge cell phones at bus stops. In the spring, two new projects received funding: a composting expansion to the Grill at 1810 and the purchase of a Rhoades Car, a four-wheeled bike that drives like a car. The Rhodes Car will be used by the Compost Team to transport food waste.