Florida Gulf Coast University’s mission statement reads that the University “practices and promotes environmental sustainability.”
In the guiding principles it is stated that, “Integral to the University’s philosophy is instilling in students an environmental consciousness that balances their economic and social aspirations with the imperative for ecological sustainability.”
As a university that is known for its eco-friendliness, FGCU has room for improvement in the amount of paper used.
Senior Alex Erienbach, an Environmental Engineering major and senator for the College of Engineering saw an opportunity for the improvement in FGCU’s amount of paper use and did something about it.
Erienbach told Eagle News, “I realized the school is so environmentally friendly, but it doesn’t do nearly as much as it can, probably because it’s so young. But reducing the paper use is something that can be done.”
In the fiscal year of 2012-2013, FGCU spent more than $30,000 on 900 boxes of paper, according to Erienbach. There are 5,000 sheets of paper per box. If FGCU continued to purchase paper at this rate, at an assumed $35 per box of paper, by the fiscal year 2034-2035, the university would be spending over $150,000 Therefore, with the passing of the bill, the university is saving $1.7 million dollars.
In February of this year, Erienbach proposed a bill to Student Government to reduce paper usage at FGCU, and eventually eliminate it by the year 2034.
On April 22, the bill #1314-009 passed.
The bill has many resolutions. By Fall of 2016, all professors will be required to allow students to turn in assignments digitally. FGCU will begin to phase out all printers that don’t have double-sided printing capability. By 2018-2019 fiscal year the amount of printing paper boxes purchased will decrease from the current 900, to 750. Textbooks used for classes will have a digital version available for purchase as well.
The full bill can be found at www.fgcusg.com
Dr. Eric Otto, an Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities at FGCU thinks that the bill is a great idea but that “20 years is a bit slow 20 years is like saying we’re going to phase out VCRs over the next 20 years. To say we’ll phase out, or drastically reduce, paper use by 2034 is basically saying we’l just go with the flow and not be proactive about suing less paper. Lets do it in five years,” Otto said.
Brian Houck, a sophomore communications major, thinks the bill is totally doable, and said, “the only thing I think students would have a problem with is would be paperless testing I personally like to take my tests in the classroom, on paper, rather than click my answers on a computer screen.”
The bill does not call for all in-class assignments to be paperless.
The idea for this bill was born out of a Canvas paper coalition: The Environmental Coalition of FGCU, aka ECOFGCU. This coalition brings students and faculty together to work on environmental initiatives Interested parties are always welcome to join ECOFGCU at http://fgcu.instructure.com/courses/178518.