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Minnesota Student Association’s new sustainability committee

The Minnesota Student Association is in the process of welcoming in this year’s newest (and perhaps most exciting) committee on – you guessed it – sustainability! The Sustainability Committee is working to advocate for the expansion and establishment of “green” programs at the U through their primary interests: environmental and energy issues. Their committee meetings will take place every other Tuesday at 4 pm in Vincent Hall 2 starting next week – September 22nd. The committee’s new director, Rachael Grunfelder, gave us insight on her vision for the group and listed some simple ways that you can get involved.

How did the Sustainability Committee start in MSA?
The sustainability committee is new this year and started when MSA saw great success with a more focused committee group last year. We now have 7 committees that were voted on last year by forum and they all have incredible ideas for this upcoming school year.

If I were an interested student, how might I get involved?
MSA logoStudents can get involved by attending MSA forum meetings, the first one being on Tuesday, September 15th from 4-6pm in Molecular & Cellular Biology (MCB) 3-120. Go to msa.umn.edu and sign up to receive updates at the bottom of the home page. Forum is a meeting with all members and those who are a part of a committee and happen every other Tuesday. Committee meetings are on opposite Tuesdays at 4pm with the first committee meeting being on September 22nd in Vincent Hall 2. MSA is open to any student that is interested!

What do you hope the Sustainability Committee will accomplish this year?
I hope to continually strengthen connections across departments and student groups that are focused on sustainability. I would like to see past projects followed up on and I hope to work on new ones as well. I am excited to hear about the interests and passion that the student body has surrounding sustainability.

What types of “green” programs do you envision the U establishing in the coming years?
There are many students interested in working on organics recycling, solar power, “green cleaning” in University buildings, partnering with the Real Food Challenge, and eliminating plastic water bottles on campus. I am envisioning subcommittees focused on different aspects of sustainability including waste, water, energy, food, and air quality. I am looking forward to feedback and ideas during the first committee meeting on September 22nd!

Which student groups or University operations do you hope to connect/collaborate with to help you accomplish goals/set initiatives this year?
I would like to continue to collaborate with the Sustainability Office, IonE, the Energy Transition Lab, Students for Sustainability, UDS, the Recycling Center, and the Office for Student Affairs. Student group involvement within the committee will be important as well.

Why should this committee be important to students? Why should students join?
I think this is a great committee to get involved in projects that affect our lives on and off campus. Changes that are made to campus and the surrounding community regarding sustainability will have benefits to our lives in the years to come. I hope that the changes, implementations, and/or improvements made to campus from this group will be taken with students, staff, faculty, and community members beyond their time here at the U.

Rachael is an undergraduate student studying Biology, Society and the Environment and is pursuing a minor is the History of Science, Technology and Medicine as well as Spanish Studies. We were interested to know how sustainability fits into her education, which prompted the question…

What’s your favorite sustainability course /why?
URBS 3751, Understand the Urban Environment: Urban Ecological Systems, is a class that I deeply enjoyed taking. This class allowed for field trips into the community to learn about air, soil, water, pollution, waste, and environmental justice. This brought learning about environmental issues to life. There is a difference between reading about something in a textbook and experiencing it personally. I hope the sustainability committee can become a hands-on learning experience for those interested in sustainability.

Perhaps you should look into both MSA’s new Sustainability Committee AND URBS 3751 in the near future?!

If you have any questions or want to get involved, you can email Rachael at grunf001@umn.edu. You can also check out www.msa.umn.edu to find out more about MSA.

Photo credit: Josh Mattson/flickr

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