Oh, where to start. It has been a great year as the Oakland University Student Congress Environmental, Health, and Wellness Director. Since my time in Student Congress has come to end, I am going to share with you all the environmental, health, and wellness initiatives and events that I have worked vigorously on over the past year.
One of my primary initiatives was to bring more recycling to campus. I accomplished this by working with the Oakland Center administration to purchase more recycling bins. You can find these blue bins all over the Oakland Center. This is only the start, as we have future plans to expand recycling to other buildings and introduce the idea of having outdoor recycling bins around campus as well. Oakland University also participated in RecycleMania this year. This is a nationwide competition between many colleges and universities. Basically, it is a way to encourage more schools to recycle. As of week 7 in the competition, Oakland University is ranked 47 out of 199 schools with about a 47.7% recycling rate.
Furthermore, I have been working on promotion of the non-smoking policy. Not everyone knows this, but we are actually a clean air campus. The rationale behind the policy is that “tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke is a significant health hazard. Tobacco smoke has been identified as a Group A carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) and studies have shown that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.” This has been an issue on campus since the non-smoking policy was implemented in fall 2013. There have been many discussions regarding this policy and how to further enforce this idea of a clean air campus. We hope to continue this throughout the next administration through the continuous efforts of students and faculty and promotion of smoking cessation resources available at the Graham Health Center. As stated in the non-smoking policy, “enforcement of this policy is the responsibility of all” meaning that we should all take the extra step to respectfully remind students and faculty the importance of a clean air campus. To view the non-smoking policy, visit https://wwwp.oakland.edu/policies/generalgovernance/475
A major goal of mine was to educate students of environmental, health, and wellness issues and to provide information about alleviating these problems. This is why I planned a total of 6 events throughout the year. We were able to educate students about mental, emotional, and physical health through the Wellness Carnival and Mind Matters. Thrift 2 Gift was planned as a way for students to relax before finals week and make holiday gifts for their friends and family out of recycled materials.
Talkin’ Trash was a campus clean up event that occurred in both the fall and winter semesters. During the fall campus clean up, we collected 44 pounds of trash around campus. In the winter, that number nearly tripled to 124 pounds of trash. After both clean ups, volunteers reported that there was still garbage all over campus and they did not have enough time to pick it all up. Volunteers also explained that a large amount of trash collected was cigarette butts, plastic products, and snack bags.
To further the education of proper disposal of trash, I planned the Recycling Games. The focus of this event was to teach students about the importance of reducing waste and keeping certain items out of the landfill. It was also surprising to see how many students struggle with sorting materials into recycling, composting, and landfill bins. I have placed signs around the Oakland Center describing what can and cannot be recycled so keep a lookout for those if you are unsure.
I will be graduating soon, which means I am handing off my position to my successor, Lena Mishack, who has been on the Environmental, Health, and Wellness Committee for the past two years. I am beyond excited to see what impactful changes Lena will bring to Oakland University.
I hope everyone enjoyed my articles. If I have helped at least one person through my position as the Environmental, Health, and Wellness Director, I would call this a successful year. Thank you.