Sustainability and Senate: Working Towards a Greener SLC

Sarah Lawrence's sustainability co-op, Warren Green. Photo credit: Olivia Diulus

Sarah Lawrence's sustainability co-op, Warren Green. Photo credit: Olivia Diulus

Delphine Griffith, ‘20 is the first Sustainability chair on the Student Senate. Environmentalism is and always has been a major part of the culture of SLC, so it comes as a shock that it was only relatively recently that the idea of having this type of representation was considered  for senate. According to Delphine, most of the process of creating this position was due to the effort of people like senior class co-president, Arianna Cooper, and Student Senate as a whole.

Griffith believes that “Sustainability is incredibly important, especially on a school campus because all students, most of the students are living and studying and interacting on this campus.” Despite the progress made to improve sustainability on campus, she believes that in comparison to other schools, SLC is lacking, but having a sustainability senator is a step in the right direction

For a campus that is so involved with social justice issues, Griffith believes that there needs to be more awareness, because sustainability is also a social justice issue. “Sustainability isn’t just food,” Griffith said, “it is about creating a better campus world.”

When she was a first-year , Griffith started Trash Club which focuses on recycling and handling the waste that occurred on campus. She admits that she is involved in a lot of extra-curriculars that revolve around sustainability and that “it is kind of blurry” but they aren’t distractions. Instead they fuel her goals as the sustainability senator because they are essentially all related. “It kind of feels like they are all meshing together” Griffith said.

Sustainability has no real history on this campus, according to Griffith. “There have been sustainable actions like the creation of Warren Green as a co-op, which happened ten years ago so there are obviously sustainable things happening but unlike other offices sustainability doesn’t have a real turnover.” Other offices on campus have paid positions and “real meetings” brining real progress. These issues reflect the overarching goals Griffith has as the sustainability senator: “I really want to make a change that is not only relevant but also intersectional and long-lasting,” Grifftith said.

When asked about the accomplishments that have happened since Griffith has been the sustainability senator, she willingly put together a long list. “Basically, we started Green Friday’s at Bates, where we take the waste and put it in the community garden compost. We also organized an October sustainability month where we hired different sustainability groups on campus, and we are hoping that we can do the same in the Spring for Earth day.”

While progress has already been made since her appointment to Sustainability chair,   Grifftith believes there is more to be done. Overall, she mentions that she wants to spread awareness about how to be sustainable on the SLC campus. Griffith also admits that most people do not realize that the garden in Warren Green is actually a community garden, and she hopes that during her time as a senator, she is able to spread the word about this.

Griffith also said, “Sustainability is an intersectional issue. Even though the environmental field is dominated by white people, these issues impact communities of color for the most part.” As the sustainability senator, she believes that there are  certain responsibilities she must uphold. “I want [the SLC community] to know that I really am keeping up on the forefront of my mind that making sustainability on this campus accessible and all encompassing by pointing on certain issues that affect the overall community.”

“There should be more sustainability senators, I really hope that happens” Griffith confesses. She continues by saying she wants more sustainability senators that are intersectional,diverse and willing to look at campus as a whole. A sustainability senator shouldn’t just wonder whether we need “recycling bins, to be green and vegan or need to think of small picture stuff like that” but instead would look at the bigger picture, such as people being unable to feed themselves.

Trevor Falsey '21