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FGCU needs more focused environmental goals

There were a few reasons I came to Florida Gulf Coast University: It was cheap, it was close and its standards were such that I could get in even if I applied after I graduated. It also seemed to have a pretty unique and important mission: sustainability. Now, human-accelerated climate change is a fact. It’s happening whether or not you choose to believe it, so hide in your beachfront cave all you want, I’ll be there in 50 years to sell you a snorkel. If you’re dumb enough to not interpret the evidence yourself or just take the word of literally every reputable scientist in the world, surely you have to realize the simple reasoning that there are finite resources on the planet and the population of Homosapiens is expanding. So you can imagine my relief when I found a college that was willing to roll up its sleeves and take a stand. Oh, young, naive Joel.
I really have to ask the question: What sort of logic dictates that the best way to save the environment is to cut down a bunch of trees to put up solar panels that could easily have been situated on the roofs of buildings?
Oh that’s right, it’s the logic that says to put the solar panels in a place that can be seen as people pass by so we can look like we care.
It’s the same logic that requires a token eco-consciousness course (University Colloqium) to be taken by mostly juniors and seniors, rather than freshmen, so it can be instilled in students’ thoughts early on.
It’s the same logic that neglects to incorporate the lessons from that course into the curriculum of all majors or the campus in general.
“The most disappointing aspect for me is recognizing the projected growth of the University,” Student Government Director of Sustainability Carleen Hunt said. “We are likely to get up to 20,000 students…with the projected growth, it will not be possible to maintain all of the current untouched land that is the habitat for many different species.”
Where are the rooftop gardens I was shown at ECHO? Where’s the natural water filtration system I learned about at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary? Hell, why can’t we even keep the floodlights off until the sun is down at an event like Fly By Night?
To be fair, FGCU has done a fair amount of good. The Platinum LEED certification for Academic Building 7 and Gold for Marieb Hall sets a high standard, one that all other buildings on campus should meet. I understand there can be financing issues (maybe that’s a reason to not fill buildings with $10,000 furniture pieces, but hey), but that’s what ingenuity and inventiveness is for. Find a cheaper way of doing it. The microbial fuel cell research being led by Dr. Gadhamshetty is nothing short of astounding. My point is that no one is going to care about this “Dunk City” crap in a few months, let alone a few years. It’s growing faster than ever, but unless FGCU wants to end up like a lame has-been, ranting about its playoff run 20 years ago, it’s going to have to bring something exemplary to the table. Have you guys ever heard of CSUN? Oh, you haven’t? It’s somewhat like the FGCU of Southern California. It has about 40,000 students. Guess that growth hasn’t done much for its name recognition.
“Personally, I believe the greatest thing FGCU has ever done in terms of sustainability is integrating it into the University’s mission statement and guiding principles,” Hunt said.
So Board of Governors, President Bradshaw, incoming Sudent Government, I beg you: Look at the future and make FGCU into a leader for the entire nation and the entire world.

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  • Q

    Quinton SkiBum PankowApr 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    The Living Machine has not been incorporated to the FGCU scene because of the maintenance requirements. Because a large variety of people, whom are on all sorts of medications antibiotics and birth controls, would be using such a facility the end product left behind in the soil and plants has to be removed and disposed of as hazardous waste. If the facility was used by people who were not on birth control or other medications then it would be a different story, but that is not the case as trace amounts of hormone disruptors as well as other negative implications would be present.
    Rooftop gardens would greatly increase the insurance rates of the college (just like having solar panels on a roof). Also, supposing a category 2 or 3 hurricane comes through it is surely going to rip apart any plants on any roof, thus leading to much more maintenance.
    After all that I have some great news for you. FGCU has had a permaculture garden being established on campus for the past two and a half years (Food Forest). It is a botanical collection of over 40 different fruiting species, perennial vegetables, and annual vegetables. We use no synthetic chemicals within the system and a minimal amount of water compared to traditional agriculture. We have a large amount of perennial vegetables incorporated into the system, which enables the ability to sequester a huge amount of carbon on a yearly basis. Yes thats right, we’ve created a carbon sink on FGCU’s campus that also provides a huge amount of food to students and community members and everyone is welcome to join us for our club meeting on Mondays and Thursdays 3-5pm and 4-6pm (we could certainly use the help). This is surely the most impressive sustainability initiative on campus, not to mention we’re one of a select few Universities in the entire world that has developed a legitimate permaculture garden.