Monday, April 18, 2005

President's Column - It's Easy Being Green

Universities occupy the role of being the “critic and conscience of society”. This means that academics have traditionally lead the way in social trends and movements. In the past this has included such movements as the Anti-Vietnam War movement, the Springbok Tour, and, more recently, homosexual law reform and the Civil Union Bill.

One movement which has over arched all of these is the environmental movement. This is one which is once again rearing it’s head at Victoria University.

The environmental movement was (debatably) started by Rachel Carson’s “ground breaking” book The Silent Spring. In this, Carson claims that the use of insecticides and pesticides has led to a decline in the number of songbirds in the United States. Carsen states:

“What happens in nature is not allowed to happen in the modern, chemical-drenched world where spraying destroys not only the insects but also their principal enemy, the birds. When later there is a resurgence of the insect population, as almost always happens, the birds are not there to keep their numbers in check.”

The Silent Spring started a wave of environmental legislation and activism around the world, including here in New Zealand.

This week, the VUWSA environmental group “Gecko” will be running a localized campaign on campus to raise awareness of environmental issues, and their link to the global context. Gecko is has grown from “a tiny but committed group who wanted to get involved in environmental matters”, to a large, well organised, and passionate group of activists.

Their campaign – code named “WastED” – is centred around educating students about the environment. There will be activities all week, including workshops and speakers. Green MP Nandor Tanzcos will be speaking at the Student Representative Council on Wednesday (12:50 in the Quad). I urge you get involved.

The main push for WastED is for Victoria University to institute a recycling policy for it’s four campuses. This builds on work done by a group of students from Environmental Studies 104 last year who begun such a project.

There is currently no uniform policy for recycling on campus, just sporadic practices in different schools and faculties. This is disappointing, as there is no incentive for staff and students to use the few recycling facilities on campus.

Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh said at the Student Representative Council just before the break that a recycling policy is something he would be willing to support. I will be working with Gecko, University Management and University Council to make sure this comes to fruition.

Recycling is common place in most work places and education establishments. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be part of Victoria University. It is important that the university re-took it’s place as the critic and conscience of society.

Listed on BlogShares