Sustainable Partnerships

By Skylar Gering

Students and staff at Harvey Mudd are working hard to bring sustainable practices to campus. ASHMC Sustainability and Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) have begun partnering with the offices of Division of Student Affairs (DSA), Facilities and Maintenance (F&M), and Dining Services to run events and projects relating to sustainability. 

Last year ASHMC Sustainability began meeting regularly with DSA’s Dr. Anna Gonzalez to discuss school-wide sustainability initiatives. Their partnership began with DSA sponsoring last year’s Reduce Single-Use Campaign. Taking their partnership a step further, this semester, with the encouragement and support of ASMC Sustainability,  DSA made its yearly carnival sustainability-themed. Every office in DSA, as well as ASHMC Sustainability and ESW, had a booth. The DSA booths provided educational information about environmentalism, as well as giveaways like reusable grocery and snack bags, bamboo toothbrushes, and succulents. DSA also catered boba from T-Pumps and made it a bring-your-own cup event where students brought their own cups and straws to collect the free boba. ASHMC Sustainability also sold subsidized reusable boba straws, while ESW had a Post-It-note event to gather suggestions from the community for new sustainability initiatives. Additionally, the dorm proctors organized a clothing drive to donate used clothing to House of Ruth and the Inland Valley Hope Partners.

With 502 unique student bar code check-ins, 40 student write-ins, and around 70 staff and faculty members attending, the carnival was very popular. When asked about the event, Dr. Gonzalez stated, “It was a great opportunity for the HMC community to get tools on how to do everyday sustainable living practices. Sustainability is a complex societal issue, and it was great to have the event as a reminder that there are daily sustainable practices that we can do. And it was awesome to collaborate with students on this important event.”

The following Friday, ESW and ASHMC Sustainability partnered with F&M and Dining Services to host a town hall on sustainability initiatives within their respective organizations. The speakers included Daniel Madrigal (Senior Director of Plant Services), Rick Vanzini (Senior Director of Capital Projects), and Miguel Ruvalcaba (General Manager of Dining Services). All three speakers gave a quick overview of the sustainability projects that Mudd has implemented in recent years and then answered student questions. Madrigal discussed Mudd’s energy and water consumption, noting that it is at an all-time low. In fact, Mudd has reduced water consumption by 20 percent in the last 13 years, and Mudd has averaged a 4.5 percent reduction in electricity consumption every year since the 2014-15 academic year, despite an increase in the number of buildings. Vanzini is in charge of large building projects such as building the McGregor Computer Science Center project, which will be LEED Silver equivalent, but not LEED Certified due to budgeting constraints. Additionally, he is overseeing the installation of a solar carport along Platt Campus Center this summer. Ruvalcaba has been working with ASHMC Sustainability for over a year to implement projects related to dining at Mudd. For example, he has helped ASHMC Sustainability run the Weigh the Waste events and has been instrumental in removing many single-use items from the Hoch, such as the single-use chopsticks and plates for Sushi Night. He also advocated for adding a dishwasher to Jay’s Place so that students could use reusable plates and utensils. Additionally, ASHMC Sustainability recently partnered with the Hoch to restart the Shareware Program, which allows students to check out reusable plates and utensils for events. While they are still discussing the specifics, the Hoch is open to washing the dishes, which means that the program will likely start running again with a much greater capacity than was previously possible. Overall, with approximately 40 students showing up to learn more about institutional level sustainability at Mudd, the event was well attended. 

 These kinds of partnerships will continue, even with students away from campus for the rest of this semester. ASHMC Sustainability is also hoping to partner with ASHMC Senate to work on a student Carbon Commitment. This might involve steps like stating student support for carbon neutrality or purchasing carbon offsets for ASHMC funded travel. They will also continue to organize the Shareware Program so that it can start smoothly in the fall. ASHMC Sustainability and ESW are excited by the partnerships they are forming across campus and the opportunities these present for the institutionalization of sustainability practices. Right now, there is a lot of momentum to make the campus more sustainable, and student leaders are hopeful that that will continue! If any student, staff, or faculty organizations want to form a partnership to work toward sustainability goals, please contact sgering@g.hmc.edu

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