Drew has recently been placed on the Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Schools” for the tenth consecutive year. While I am normally happy to see Drew getting the recognition it deserves, hearing this piece of news was a bit confusing. Although Drew prides itself on being The Forest, the school doesn’t have many initiatives to help preserve the environment at all.
Any initiatives that Drew has created have not been followed through on, especially since the head of the Office of Sustainability has not yet been replaced. Any actions that the school claims that it has taken cannot be accounted for, including its Climate Neutrality Action Plan. The only way to see what progress has been made is through the Second Nature Report, which is difficult enough to understand. Looking at the graph of the net carbon emissions from Drew in the last 11 years, we can see that there has been a general decrease in the University’s carbon emissions overall, but an increase in the past few years. The website does not include any explanations as to why the fluctuations in carbon emissions have occurred, only statistics that are difficult for anyone unfamiliar with the measurements used to fully understand. An outline of the efforts that have been made to mitigate climate change is an important part of the accountability of the school’s efforts here, and I think it’s unfair to claim that Drew is a “green school” until there are comprehensive reports of the efforts they are making.
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Another initiative that Drew cites as sustainable is their locally sourced food, although this is just as vague, if not more so, than the Climate Neutrality Action Plan. While it would never occur to me that Aramark is the pinnacle of a conscious corporation, there are some signs in the Commons that boast of supporting local farmers. However, students are never told when their produce is local and where it is from, so they don’t know to what extent the claim of local produce is in effect, or if it even is at all. This is another unclear initiative from the school that lacks any avenue for accountability.
While there are some campus-wide initiatives that Drew boasts on their Sustainability website, such as “Drew it in the Dark” or “Fern Fest,” these are all student-run projects and do not receive much support from the university at all. And while the eco-reps and DEAL do great work, Drew as an institution taking credit for students’ initiatives while not pouring much support into them is not what I would say constitutes a green college.
Drew prides itself on creating more environmentally conscious students, preparing them to solve the environmental crises the world is facing and will see in the future, and the Environmental Science and Studies programs do a fantastic job of this. But, when it comes to Drew delivering effective solutions on their end, there is a lack of tangible, effective or sufficient efforts, and students are tired of seeing empty promises.