Two more solar arrays at Southern Oregon University
SOU has added two more solar arrays over the summer. These are exciting projects that were innovatively funded and will generate renewable electricity for the university and our community, and provide educational and other benefits to our students. One project has been funded by a private investor and the other by the Student Green Fund and Department of Energy Oregon grant. The Student Green Fund is a student fee of $13 per term paid by each student and proposals can be made by any student to the Environmental Affairs Committee to contribute to sustainability at SOU. One great thing about the solar project at the Farm funded by the green fund is the money the University receives back from the City of Ashland for this energy generation will go back into the Green Fund to help fund more Sustainability projects. Read more about the projects here.
SOU Sustainability Office has worked with staff, faculty and students across campus to update SOU’s Sustainable Purchasing Policy. SOU also recognizes the intersection between social equity and justice and the environment and this is reflected in the newly updated Sustainability and Equity in Purchasing Policy. To help understand how to follow the policy, an associated procedure has also been developed.
Money talks and the purchases that organisations and businesses make can have a far reaching impact on innovation, social equity, the resilience of a supply chain, jobs in a local economy, greenhouse gas emissions as well as the environmental impact. SOU has a purchasing policy that reflects its values of equity and sustainability and will use its purchasing power to support the local economy, drive innovation, promote social equity, and mitigate climate crisis impacts.
SOU’s Student Zero Waste Coordinator, Sarah Ross, wrote about this project last year when we were in the middle of expansion and we are excited that the project is in its final stages. The expanded Recycling Center is looking good and matching SOU’s Sustainability colors! Read Sarah’s article here and find out more about recycling at SOU here.
SOU’s Sustainability Council mission is to advise, encourage, and coordinate the operations, research, and campus culture of Southern Oregon University in a manner that is consistent with the values and practices of environmental stewardship and sustainability; promoting individual, institutional and community well-being.
The Sustainability Council is made up of representatives from Finance and Administration, Facilities Management and Planning, Student Life, Faculty, EDI Leadership Team, Housing, Dining, ASSOU as well as at large faculty, staff and students. To find out more about Sustainability at SOU, please visit our home page.
To celebrate and kick off a new year of sustainability advancements, students and staff from SOU’s Social Justice and Equity Center, Facilities Management and Planning, and The Farm at SOU are hosting events and programming throughout the month of October. Earlier this week, twenty-eight students and employees joined together on Zoom to discuss barriers students face in higher education and identified opportunities to better support students. On Wednesday, the Student Sustainability Team and RVTD held the “Raiders Ride!” event where more than a dozen students signed up for their FREE fall term bus pass (tinyurl.com/soubuspass), and on Friday 10/22 we have more than twenty-five students signed up to volunteer at the SOU Community Garden. There is still time to join in on the Campus Sustainability Month festivities, check out the events section below for details on the Campus Sustainability Tour and Fall Farm Fest on 10/29!
Image Above: Joseph Whitney (left), Real Food SOU Logo (right).
Joseph Whitney is SOU’s Real Food Coordinator! Joseph is double majoring in Theatre and Economics and works for the Social Justice and Equity Center’s Student Sustainability Team as the Real Food Coordinator.
Real Food aims to shift existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and unhealthy food and towards local & community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources—what we call Real Food. In 2018, SOU signed a commitment to reach 20% Real Food by 2023. In February of 2020, we had a percentage of 8% and we were slowly making progress. Then the pandemic hit. This last school year (20-21) SOU only purchased 4% Real Food. There’s a lot of work to be done in the next two years and Joseph is optimistic we can move the needle up aggressively.
As the Real Food Coordinator, Joseph advocates for Real Food purchases by SOU and audits the school’s food purchases to see if they qualify. Joseph has the important role of monitoring our progress and can suggest changes to SOU Dining to help SOu achieve its sustainability goals.
Joseph explains why Real Food is of huge significance on a number of levels. “Population continues to grow every year, a population that needs to be fed; companies are more than happy to meet demand, but doing so in a way that will last into the future is difficult; pesticide use has increased consistently over the past several decades even though after a certain level more spraying shows little to no increase in yield; we continue to create farmland oases while the Colorado River fails to reach the sea and states like California are driven by drought to put restrictions on water use.” The U.S. agricultural labor force is also unsustainable; in the midst of the Great Resignation, one has to wonder if a system built on poorly compensated migrant labor isn’t also prone to collapse. And, as my predecessor Jamie Talarico sagely noted, local/organic food often tastes better too! Real Food attempts to encompass all of these concerns.
A pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. In November, the UK, together with our partners Italy, will host an event many believe to be the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control. COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference.
For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority.
For more information, visit https://ukcop26.org/uk-presidency/ and https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/conferences/glasgow-climate-change-conference
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
~ Anna Lappe