Green Column: Sewanee offers diverse environmental opportunities for student involvement

By Helena Kilburn

Staff Writer

Sewanee is a university set apart by its beautiful environment, but despite the amazing array of activities and events here at Sewanee, we can sometimes forget the incredible natural world. There is a plethora of ways for students to reconnect with the environment on campus, in casual, meditative, and activist capacities.

The Green House is, at its core, focused on sustainable living. While only 11 people live in the house, many people stop by just to hang out or for their fun events, such as Arm and Trout, one of their music nights. There is an ever-present welcoming atmosphere and always people to talk to about the best ways to be green.

Earthkeepers, a relatively new organization on campus, brings people together to talk and consider the relationship between people and the environment. It brings together aspects of spirituality, sustainability, and personal reflection that combine for one enlightening hour every other Tuesday night.

The Sewanee Outing Program forms the cornerstone of Sewanee’s outdoor recreation. This well-known program helps students get out into Sewanee’s environment and explore. They offer such activities as caving, climbing, hiking, and so much more. This program has an office in the Bishop’s Commons (BC) that loans outdoor equipment to students who wish to do their own exploration of the Domain.

The Sewanee Water Campaign encourages sustainable use of water and has spearheaded the campus shift away from bottled water.  Zack Loehle (C’17), a Sustainability Fellow and an officer in both Divest Sewanee and the Sewanee Water Campaign, says, “The Sewanee Water Campaign works to bring about a bottled-water-free campus, meaning that the university does not sell or buy bottled water. A number of schools have done this, including Belmont, and it simultaneously reduces plastic waste while fighting to protect the human right to water and prevent water privatization. Moving forward, the Sewanee Water Campaign plans to conduct further analyses on why and how the school can go bottled-water-free, and also continue student and administrative outreach.”

The goal of Divest Sewanee is to help students become involved in creating institutional environmental change. This group works towards getting the university to divest from fossil fuels. As Loehle said “Divest Sewanee works to bring about discussion of climate change on campus and to transition the University endowment from investment in fossil fuels to investment in sustainable enterprise. Looking forward, we’re planning on continuing to do outreach to the student body and administration and to raise awareness through a variety of events.”

The Natural History Society is a group of curious and enthusiastic students dedicated to exploring the wonderful range of the Domain’s biodiversity. This organization partners with the departments of geology and biology departments as well as the Sewanee Outing Program in order to go on hikes and adventures to learn more about the natural world surrounding the University.

Lastly, the Farm Club allows students to take advantage of access to the University Farm in a practical context. The Farm Club is great for those who wish to see food sustainability in action here at Sewanee, because members get to play an active role in producing food that is consumed by the University community.

All of these groups provide great opportunities for students to become actively involved in making Sewanee a more sustainable campus.