Did you know that Fort Lewis College has a Sustainability Action Plan?
It is a 5-year plan designed to make this campus more sustainable. A quick overview of the plan: it is divided into six sections: Stewardship, Consumption, Climate, Education and Engagement, Service to Region, and Coordination and Support. Under each section are goals and objectives, and within each objective are recommended actions that can be taken to help work towards the goals and objectives. Each of the actions has a responsible party or parties – departments on campus – listed beside them.
Auditing the Plan
I am on the Sustainability Team here at the Environmental Center. Last semester my teammate, Drew Stuntz, and I completed an audit of the plan. For the audit, we went to the different departments listed as responsible parties in the plan and talked to them about the SAP, and how much progress they had made regarding it. We found that many of the departments had heard of the SAP, but did not know that they were listed as a responsible party for it. However, most of the departments were very supportive of the plan, and some had even taken the initiative to start sustainable practices in their offices, even ones who did not know much about the plan. It was encouraging to see the amount of support for the plan!
What did we find out?
We took the information gathered from our meetings with the responsible parties and assessed the progress of the plan, looking at which goals and objectives were being met and which needed to be worked on.
There are 225 actions identified in the plan, and only 32 percent have been completed. It is a five-year plan, and we are in the third year, so this percentage is not good news. The weakest sections in the plan are Climate and Stewardship, with only 4 percent of the actions having been completed in the latter!
Although seeing these disappointments, our team is still extremely optimistic about support shown for the plan once people actually knew that they were identified as a responsible party in it. This semester, our team is planning to work towards the goals in the plan within the EC. We want to help improve the sections of the plan that need improvement, as well as uphold the stronger sections.
Wait… What is sustainability?
A major flaw we found in the plan is that it does not even define sustainability! To help fix this problem, the Sustainability Team in the EC is collaborating with the EC Board of Directors to plan a Sustainability Summit where students, staff, and faculty can have input into defining what sustainability is for this school. We believe this will help raise awareness about the Sustainability Action Plan, as well as bring together with the same goals and interests together to create a working definition of sustainability for Fort Lewis College.
~ Jessica Smyke