November 26, 2020

Unsustainable

The Fall 2011 Delegates Agenda came and went on Tuesday, Oct 4. and as usual, student representatives from Student Government Association presented their top five issues to administrators on campus. This year’s No. 1 issue was sustainability, and the agenda opened with members of SGA and Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability (WSES).
The presentation led with a lofty goal: 100 percent renewable energy for Webster University by 2030. Webster currently gets its power from a coal-powered Ameren UE plant. As the presenters made clear: coal energy is dirty and bad for the environment.
The Journal applauds environmental efforts. We believe our planet is our finest resource and it must be cared for.  But The Journal wonders how such a global issue, which can be minimally affected by Webster, made it into an agenda designed to bring concerns and student input to top administrators.
With President Elizabeth Stroble, Provost Julian Schuster, Chancellor Neil George and nearly a dozen ranking members of the administration in the audience, should sustainability be given more attention than class availability or financial aid?
The Journal knows protecting the deteriorating planet is the dominant issue of our generation. But The Journal also believes that the delegates agenda should be about bringing the most important student concerns to the administrators.
Sustainability, for all its high-minded goals, is the project and passion of a few rather than an issue for all.
The Journal believes that the number of WSES members on SGA may have contributed to the agenda this year. Three of WSES executive board members are also in SGA. The Journal does not believe this to be a coincidence.
Will the improvement of Webster’s energy use contribute to the education of its students? Will it make a more meaningful experience out of our higher education? And what power do Webster administrators have in escaping the monopoly Ameren UE currently has over power in the greater St. Louis area?
SGA represents the student voice at Webster, and they do so with passion and diligence. But they must not allow an opportunity for real student concerns to be manipulated into a platform by a vocal minority .
Last spring, sustainability was presented at delegates agenda as well, and administrators took baby steps in moving toward a more energy-independent Webster. But investments in solar and biomass energy requires time and money, as well as the expertise of engineers to oversee the implementation of such sources.
Unconventional energy is neither affordable nor practical enough to replace traditional coal power at Webster in less than two decades.
The Journal commends the lofty ideals of sustainability. But saving the planet requires a global effort. Tuition-paying students have classes, books and student loans to worry about. Perhaps saving the planet can wait until after graduation.

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