The environment should be a priority on campus

More stories from Todd Giles

Back in 2014 I had the privilege of hosting a Philosophy Club panel discussion with professors Rebecca Dodge (Environmental Science) and Lucy Schultz (Philosophy) on environmental science and ethics. It was, one longtime faculty member told us during the Q&A, the first public discussion about environmental stewardship she recalled ever openly occurring on our campus.

Then in 2015 we held another public discussion on Earth Day during the Celebration of Scholarship. The panel, titled “Getting Involved in Conservation on Campus and in the Community,” addressed issues such as whether or not being pro-business conflicts with being pro-environment, what students can do to help “green” our campus, and whether or not we have an ethical obligation to participate in activities such as recycling and conscientious consumerism.

One of the things I most remember about my colleagues was how flabbergasted we all were, as graduates of larger universities, that MSU did nothing to even feign interest in the environment—no paper, plastics or aluminum recycling, not rainwater collection (even though we were in the midst of a record draught), no solar power, no yard and tree waste recycling; nothing. Our befuddlement was, at least temporarily it seems, somewhat alleviated when MSU soon brought the Waste Connections recycling bins to campus.

As I said in 2015, universities have an ethical duty to uphold the beacon of knowledge and social and scientific progress not only for their students but also for the communities in which they thrive. Having invested nearly seven years of passion, energy and money in both our campus and regional community, I can honestly say that I am ashamed of MSU for foisting this difficult and draconian budgetary decision upon Kyle Owen, the head of Facilities Services.

If MSU truly does not have the funds to help protect our environment, much less teach our students about ethical stewardship, then I suggest we set up an account specifically designated for donations to cover the measly $4,596 The Wichitan reports that it costs to bring the recycling bins back to campus.

Indeed, I stand ready as one Mustang to personally pledge to pay for half of the annual fee each year for the remainder of my career at MSU if that is what it takes to get the university to step up to our environmental and community obligations as a public liberal arts institution.