Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 20, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Commentary: Sustainably Conscious Community leaves impact

Living in the Sustainably Conscious Community freshman and sophomore year changed my college career for the better. I met some of my closest friends living in the community, my first roommate helped me get my current job with the Ithaca College Resource and Environmental Management Program, and I met Jake Brenner, the community’s faculty advisor, who is now my academic advisor when I transferred from the School of Business to the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences. It would be fair to say that it changed my life.

The SCC was located on the first floor of Terrace 02 and had a full sized kitchen and an extra study lounge we nicknamed “Rack City.” Just about every month we would have a community dinner where one of the residents would prepare dinner for everyone. We had a compost bucket to collect the food waste from the dinners and we shared the responsibility for taking it down to Terrace Dining Hall for disposal. Other floor programs included watching environmental films in the lounge area and talking with Jake about how what was covered affects us in everyday life.

Not only did we learn about sustainability, but we had the opportunity to practice it as well. We learned about the history of the campus and of South Hill while on hikes in the Natural Lands. I definitely would not have been in the Natural Lands as often as I was if I didn’t live on the floor. We would cut back on our energy use by hang-drying our clothes on drying racks in the study lounge behind the laundry room instead of using a dryer. Homemade signs were hung in the bathrooms to encourage water conservation measures like taking 5 minute showers, turning the water off when we brushed and agreeing to flush the toilets only when necessary. I think there were few if any other places where a student in a residential hall had access to a full sized kitchen, the ability to compost and such a strong community.

Sustainability has been pegged as an environmental person’s subject and separated from all other disciplines. The notion that only environmentally-focused students or professionals can deal with sustainable matters fails to see the necessity of interconnectivity of the subject. Sustainability is most powerful when it is supported by a diverse community. Just as ecosystems thrive with more biodiversity, sustainability initiatives thrive when diverse sets of people adopt it into their practices. I was the only environmental major on the floor, and everyone else had different majors and we all came together as a community. We all just had different things to bring to the table.

There seems to be a resurging interest in sustainability initiatives on campus lately. Environmental Society went away for a semester, but now they are back and 20 members strong as of last semester. There are several Eco-Reps all working on different projects such as composting in Circle Apartments and in IC Square. I’ve heard that a few people are interested in bringing back the Divest IC campaign. All of these clubs and projects are exciting to see, especially since there is a growing sense of urgency to do what we can to minimize our environmental impact. I think that SCC will not only strengthen the community of its residents but also the campus community at large by the college directly supporting an initiative that can see real change. Even though I will be living in a Circle Apartment next year, I am excited to learn that the SCC is coming back this coming year.