Eco-Campus Campaigning

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Creating a greener campus takes a lot of work, and for the University of Ottawa, that has meant a lot of green campaigns. With elections coming back, it’s time to take a look back at previous green campaigns—and who's been helping push them through.

The bike co-op came into effect after passing through a referendum in February 2010, creating a space on campus for bike enthusiasts to hang out, swap stories, and help each other with repairs, and also encourages and helps new cyclists.

The U-Pass, a not-uncontroversial issue, has passed through two referendums to offer cheaper bus fare on OC Transpo to students, getting a few more cars off the roads and helping make travel more affordable for students living in the city.

The Green Fund, another referendum measure, added a $2 fee to each student’s tuition in order to create a financing source for green projects on campus. The money helped set up the Sustainability Centre, and supports green initiatives in campus clubs and organizations.

The ban on selling bottled water came into effect in 2010, a year after the first national Bottle Water Free Day on March 11th. In part, it reduces waste on campus, and it also makes healthy tap water a priority for all students.

And the move towards a fair trade campus is underway with the help of Engineers Without Borders and Fair Trade Canada, with Café Alt leading as an example.

So who’s been helping these campaigns along? Two candidates who were involved with a lot of these initiatives were Ted Horton and Sarah Jayne King. Both did excellent community outreach over the issues and intensive research into the initiatives, especially a bottle water free campus and a U-Pass. They also both got re-elected.

Supporting bike initiatives on campus was part of Danika Brisson’s campaigns, which saw her elected to the SFUO twice. Not to mention her involvement with OPIRG.

In 2007, Dean Haldenby started talking about a U-Pass, and over two elections went from VP Finance to President.

And Seamus Wolfe, who’s enjoyed an almost infamous career with the SFUO, was elected to office three times, campaigning on numerous issues, including a Sustainability Centre.

This year, Amy Hammett’s running for re-election, having successfully won as VP Student Affairs in last year’s election with issues like the Sustainability Centre and the bottled water ban.

So I’m intrigued. What’s this year going to bring?

There’s an Environmental Charter of Rights for campus in the works, one of the first to guarantee rights to all parties involved. It seeks to prevent serious environmental harm by any persons or organization on campus, and guarantees a healthier campus by doing things like preserving green space. It also promotes a more transparent process of environmental planning on campus and encourages public participation.

Far be it for me to suggest anything to this year’s candidates…but they might want to have a look at this, since while having a green campaign won’t guarantee you victory, it’s worked for everyone else.

Leni - associate editor of the Ottawa Arts Review (guest blogger)
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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