Bahls announces new sustainability efforts

Dina Marin

Steven Bahls, president of Augustana, sent an announcement via email on Oct. 22 to the college community in response to the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20.

In this statement, President Bahls stated two new projects that aim to build a more sustainable community. These projects are a Climate Task Force and the Grant Fund for Student Green Initiative Projects.

“The climate task force is going to come up with a series of suggestions that will be presented before April 2020,”  Kai Swanson, Special Assistant to the President said.

The Climate Task Force is made up of students, faculty and staff that make recommendations to the administration on actions that the college could take to create a more sustainable campus.

“[The task force’s] plan will be based on what we believe to be the most achievable and constructive actions to ensure a lasting commitment to the environment,” Junior Olivia Hogenkamp, a member of the climate task force, said.

“Task forces are created to achieve a specific goal and then disband after its completion. When this force disbands, the framework will be set to ensure that sustainability is prioritized moving forward,” Hogenkamp said.

The Grant Fund for Student Green Initiative Projects is intended to “pay for the student-led educational projects to advance Augustana’s environmental commitment,” President Bahls said in the statement.

“The Initial Funding Level for the Presidential Green Initiatives Fund is $10,000 from private donations and the president’s initiative funds,” Swanson said in a statement sent via email to the campus community.

“Part of the intent is to attract students who may not be part of the usual STEM fields, who have not been part of conversations like this,” Swanson said.

“I created the Student Grant Fund Initiative because several students approached me with good ideas to make Augustana more sustainable and I wanted to create a pathway for students to apply for and implement these ideas,” Bahls said in an email.

Senior Robert Burke, a member of the climate task force, said it’s important for students to take initiative and become involved in this effort.

“These green grants are available to all students, not just the hippie, earth science majors who make their own laundry soap and bike to class,” Burke said. “They’re for you. But you have to have passion. Passion for the planet is something we share as a community, and we’re hopeful that students will have a little passion of their own.”

“Today’s Augustana students are more passionate about the environment that any other students I’ve worked with in my 35 years in higher education,” Bahls said. “This passion, combined with the wonderful creativity and ‘can do’ attitude of Augustana students, will certainly result in impactful projects.”

“We are so much stronger when we are loud about our passions, organize collectively, and fundamentally change the systems that make survival on this planet unlikely,” Burke said. “Staying silent ensures that no one will know better. Do not be silent. Be loud and leave your mark on this world.”