Can we actually have a Green Frosh?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

Sorry I didn’t mean to steal away the Fulcrum’s thunder and publish the word Frosh before them but… whatever. The question at hand is can we actually have a green frosh given that frosh is essentially a week to produce as much garbage as is humanly possible?

Now hold up. I am not trying to be super critical or anything, I am just kind of stating the facts. Think back to your own frosh. Do you remember the frosh kit stuffed with things that you never touched again (for example, that plastic mug that was great for getting free beer at pub crawls but that eventually became so gross you never used it again - except maybe to fill it full of broken pens)? What about the swarm of sponsors that pay tonnes of money to hang around the campus during frosh week and offer you free stuff for signing up to credit cards, and magazines, and cell phones, and other things I can’t think of right now?

That’s basically how it is, right? And let’s not forget the long bus rides to everywhere off campus (Camp Fortune, Mont Cascade, Jacques Cartier, etc…). That’s a lot of diesel busses moving thousands of students back and forth, generating lots of CO2. Oh, and the food. Lots of meat, lots of energy drinks, lots of sugar… everything a growing person needs to become, well quite frankly less of a person.

But not everything is doom and gloom. There are some pretty progressive things that have been happening on campus that are making us a little sustainable. A couple of year ago the SFUO banned bottled water during frosh week and started handing out reusable bottles in all the frosh kits. The SFUO also started ordering fair trade shirts to put in all the frosh kits. And going back even further there is the famous Alternative 101 which puts a socially aware spin on the whole frosh week by having alcohol free events, workshops about oppression and sexuality, and offering reused swag in their frosh kits.

So does this mean that things are getting better or that we are trying really hard to put a band-aid on the whole frosh thing? Well let’s start by asking ourselves what is frosh week all about? Officially it is an opportunity for new students to ‘break the ice’, network with potential study partners, and get to know a bit about the place that will become their home for the next four years. Unofficially though, frosh is the biggest public display of trying to desperately fit in with a group of strangers that are doing the same thing. And on the side, the organizers are frantically trying to create a artificial loyalty to a faculty in which most people will never actually share a unique bond with.

Okay okay, sorry, I am getting critical. But what I want to say is that there is nothing really wrong with this. I mean would you really want to go to a party where nobody know anybody and as a result you might have a pretty awkward semester? Probably not. The real trick is to try to find a way get the best of both worlds; create extremely engaging activities that protect the environment and are respectful of people while you are at it.

Before going I want to sign off with the 3 big things that would help create a more sustainable frosh week:
  1. Make events within walking distance of the campus. This will eliminate the need for a ridiculous amount of buses. Or if that isn’t good enough, have the event somewhere along the transit way. All new students will have access to a U-pass so they might as well give it a try.
  2. Provide tips on responsible drinking. It is probably not possible to convince everyone to stop people from drinking during frosh week, so the least we can do is talk a little bit about responsible drinking. Otherwise, providing more dry events that are cool will also help students that don’t drink, network while feeling included.
  3. Reduce the amount of swag in the frosh kit. Seriously, some of the stuff is pretty lame and frankly, completely useless. We should try to increase the amount of experiential opportunities in the frosh kit. Or, we can focus on increasing the number of swag items that have a high reuse value (for example and stainless steel mug instead of a plastic one).
Anyways, I am sure that you have more ideas about how to make frosh more sustainable. I would love to hear them.


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