University considers new sustainability requirement

Undergraduate students at UVM may soon find themselves with another General Education Requirement to complete.The Student Government Association senate passed a resolution supporting the creation of a six-credit Sustainability Education Requirement at the March 16 meeting.”The fact that students can graduate from this school with no knowledge of sustainability or environmental conservation just seems absurd to me,” Senator Mikayla McDonald said.Senator Beth Kerschner said that as a student at UVM, she began to notice the amount of “Greenwashing” being forced on students.”To me [greenwashing] means preaching an environmental vision but not all the way through, not walking the walk,” Kerschner said.The Rubenstein School and the Environmental Program are in favor of the requirement, she said.  “Since the beginning of the semester, we have been discussing this with the General Education Work Group, Office of Sustainability, Environmental Program and Rubenstein School,” she said.The program will be incorporated into existing requirements and not act as an additional burden, Kerschner said. “That might look like something like, say, in the engineering department one of their basic classes is just reworked a little bit to be through a sustainability lens,” she said. “Maybe they could learn more about green building or natural building.”Some students in a focused program such as business might see it as just another requirement, but that’s not how is has to be, she said.”We don’t want it to be something that no one cares about,” she said.It is important to learn about the environment, especially since UVM is an agricultural school, the requirement does not seem necessary beyond freshman year, freshman Ariel Cohen said.”I think people look at it as another requirement that they are not going to necessarily look forward to taking and just another thing to fit into their schedules,” Senator Maggie Thompson said. Thompson said she thinks that students should look at it as a class they would have already had to take, now with the sustainability component. When polled, 43.5 percent of UVM students supported an environmental sustainability requirement, 26.5 percent did not and 23.1 percent somewhat supported the program, according to the Vermont Student Opinion Poll.”We feel students want it, and to get it passed through the SGA just reinforces that,” McDonald said.McDonald said she feels that our generation is the generation that will have to deal with extreme disparities in supplies of natural resources and degradation of ecological functions.”We are the ones who are going to have to fix these problems, so we had better have the tools and the knowledge to fix them,” she said.