Although Ethics Week ended on the 8th February, and Elections are over, the notion of changing our Union to be more sustainable for the now and the future is still being worked upon. This effort was being achieved by Joshua Davies and Sophie Van Eetvelt, coordinators of The SUSU Sustainable Workshops.
This student-led and student participated event, was a unique opportunity to shape the Union’s Sustainable Strategy to become more sustainable. It was not a lecture, preach, nor a persuasion for students to radically change their beliefs. It was an education session to share a modern definition of sustainability, and for the Environment & Ethics Committee to work with students to change how SUSU will look and operate in the future.
The Union’s sustainability plan expires in 2015. The SUSU Sustainable Workshop’s goal was to create a new plan using input external from the E&E Committee. Sustainability seems like an “idealistic theory but one we can strive towards with free-flowing thinking.” says Sophie Van Eetvelt, an E&E Committee Member and a Union Councillor for the next academic year. Improving the environment is just one aspect. As a Union we need large-scale thinking in order to have growth. As a Union we need large-scale thinking in order to have growth.
“Growth in providing a better service” says Joshua Davies, the previous E&E Officer and a Southampton Blackout founder, “and growth cannot happen without sustainability”.
As a Union we need large-scale thinking in order to have growth.
Our actions have consequences and students should be aware of their responsibility. “ It is the best time to make Sustainability the heart of SUSU.”
“It is the best time to make Sustainability the heart of SUSU.” says Sophie, “The strategy dictates and governs what the Union does.” Students should also know that their contribution to create a better Union is very important and needed.
It is the best time to make Sustainability the heart of SUSU.”
The E&E Committee want to make our SUSU a leader of sustainability. They want SUSU to compete with other Universities like Leeds, Bristol, Nottingham, and Edinburgh – the Unions that are pioneering their students to act sustainably and are doing a brilliant job. Josh described how the results of our recent SUSU Elections can benefit their sustainable cause. “David Gilani’s manifesto mentioned ‘Policy Areas’ and one of these were Sustainability. This focus will make the Environment & Ethics Committee more powerful and make our influence stronger.”
The SUSU Sustainable Workshop attendees took part in an interactive brainstorming session. The focus initially seemed abstract – ‘Giving Union’, ‘Talent’, Financially Responsible’ – but it reiterated the idea that sustainable does not mean just having a green footprint. “To celebrate talent we need to be financially viable, and supporting well-being enables more sustainable actions to happen.” tells Sophie. In fact, some of the ideas suggested in these workshops will affect how societies and clubs are promoted, funded, and the feasibility of societies doing outreach programs.
Looking into the near future, Josh expresses how “we envisage more greater things.” Soon, students can expect workshops to solve the conundrums of budgeting and housing that can otherwise take a long time to learn if on your own.
The ideas suggested in these workshops will affect how societies and clubs are promoted, funded, and the feasibility of societies doing outreach programs.
The success of the SUSU Sustainable Workshops was evident in the ideas generated from it, and the satisfaction from its creators.
Josh, surprised by its success, says to “never underestimate human ingenuity.” Whilst Sophie says she learnt to put herself in the place of others to get them passionate about sustainability too.
“Never underestimate human ingenuity.”Joshua DaviesPrevious E&E Officer and SUSU Sustainable Workshop Coordinator
However, all these plans cannot take place without collaboration of us – the students. The student-SUSU friendship is a topic that Josh hopes will improve. “There is a SUSU clique that can put students off. However, the new Sabbatical Officers offer a fresh face that can make our Union more approachable.”
What the E&E Committee hoped to achieve in two forty-five minute workshops was nothing short of ambitious. I attended the event in hope of being part of an innovating feat –and I was not disappointed. Sustainability is not just about having a green footprint, but is has social and economic factors too. If we give our Union a little bit more attention, we will be pleasantly surprised by the benefits we can all reap.