As Kate Canavan, newly appointed chair of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s environmental committee and MCAS ’21, assumes her new role within BC’s student governing body, she is concentrating on increasing her committee’s presence on campus.
“Last year, I was a Class of 2021 senator and a member of the environmental committee, and this year, the SA has made changes to ensure that we, as committees, are held accountable for making things happen,” she said. “This year as the environmental chair, I hope to make sure all the members of my committee feel excited and enthusiastic about what they are trying to accomplish and keep that enthusiasm alive throughout the entirety of the year.”
The mission of the environmental committee is to produce an agenda for long and short term goals for environmental change on campus and connect more students who are concerned about the environment with the administration, according to Canavan.
The committee has four members including herself, and Canavan has high hopes for each of them. So far, Canavan has noticed that the individual committee members have their own ideas on how to make BC more green. As a committee, the group’s primary goals are to educate students on the environment, while urging them to recycle and compost.
Last year, she took part in the resolution concerning the administration’s divestment from fossil fuels in her role as a committee member. Canavan said UGBC collaborated with many other environmental groups on campus, such as Climate Justice for BC (CJBC). CJBC’s prior research on divestment enhanced the final product of the divestment resolution and continues to be a resource both UGBC and CJBC can use, according to Canavan. Her takeaway from the joint effort was to make it her priority to continue relationships with environmental groups across campus in 2018, because through partnerships, the committee can better grapple with larger institutional changes.
“We are going to be setting up meetings with other environmental groups on campus to see what UGBC can do to help their attain their goals which in turn, helps the committee attain our goals,” Canavan said.
In the long term, educating and empowering the general student body to make more informed decisions concerning the environment is paramount in the committee chair list of priorities.
“There is a lot of red tape that comes with a lot of the bigger, more substantial changes, which is what makes change in the dining hall a long term goal, but we are hoping to address that,” Canavan said.
Increasing environmental education outreach past outside of the dining halls is an example of a shorter term goal the committee is taking on. Although there are signs around the dining halls that depict what items are recyclable and compostable, she believes more change needs to take place in residence halls—beginning with adding similar flyers in dormitory hallways to the ones students might find in Lower or Mac.
Many of the issues Canavan wants to address will be addressed in a video campaign that the committee will spend this semester working on. She plans to collaborate with the communications division of UGBC to have a finished product by second semester.
On a related note, the environmental committee is also working with the UGBC Student Initiatives’ department on establishing a solid connection to BC Dining. Recently, the committee met with the department’s director of sustainability, Pia Montenez, MCAS ’21 where it received contacts UGBC has in Dining Services to reach out to about creating more eco-friendly dining halls. The partnership is intended to give UGBC the opportunity to use its collective voice rather than just the committee’s to establish a stronger link to one of the University’s most important student service providers.
It is important, as a committee chair, to listen to what the general student body has to say, Canavan said. Her work with Dining Services provides an opportunity to act on that: The environmental committee will be setting up meetings with BC Dining and University administrators to address students’ concerns and see how the committee’s plans for more environmental education can come to fruition.
“We really want to make sure we can address a variety of environmental issues and combine our efforts to realize a lot of different perspectives can be shared together in one finished product,” Canavan said.
Featured Image Courtesy of Kate Canavan