UWL students petition for new Sustainability Director position


UWL Co-Chair of Students for Sustainability Madelynn Makinster tabling in Whitney Dining Hall. Photo by Julia Balli.

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

Sustainability Coordinators are common in many college communities, yet the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is one of the few colleges that currently does not have a sustainability coordinator on campus. 

Other UW colleges have already implemented this position, including University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. UWL is one of the only universities in the UW system that does not currently have a sustainability coordinator. 

A sustainability coordinator’s job “is to design and implement programs for lowering environmental impact,” according to environmentalscience.org. 

“This position would hopefully be full-time staff member on campus, but part-time is a likely a more realistic goal as far as budgeting for the position goes,” said Samantha Wolfe, student senate sustainability director.

Wolfe said, “I think the student vision of this position is someone that is able to be a center point for sustainability efforts driven by students and also to be a connection with administration to be part of the conversation to drive more drastic, institutional changes on campus that cannot be accomplished by students alone in terms of environmental sustainability.” 

The Students for Sustainability (SFS) organization has started a petition to show UWL administration that students believe this is an important position to have on campus. SFS is a UWL organization that Works to promote positive environmental changes on campus, advertising for the Green Fund at UWL and hosting Earth Week events in the spring, according to the SFS organization website. 

Many members of SFS have been handing out the petition in various classes and can be easily found handing out the petition in Whitney Dining Center. “Our goal is to get signatures from about 25 percent of students, so roughly 2500 signatures. We currently have 920 signatures with more to come,” said Wolfe. 

A sustainability director would also focus on reducing hunger and poverty, economic growth, gender equality and many other goals according to the United Nations website.  

“If this position were created, this person could connect many different orgs and departments on campus to each other… A sustainability coordinator would also do lots of community outreach as well. It is important to connect our students to the greater La Crosse community as well,” said Madelynn Makinster, Co-Chair of SFS.

“It seems as though sustainability is not of high priority at the administration level. The idea of creating a sustainability coordinator position is something that has been brought up to administration for years but there is always an excuse as to why it’s not feasible. Whether it be lack of funds or lack of knowledge as to why this position would be beneficial, there always seems to be an excuse,” said Makinster. 

SFS has been proposing a sustainability coordinator position to be put in place at UWL for years, and now students have taken action to try and enforce the proposal.