First sustainability director talks SWaG at ASG Senate

    Correction appended; see below.

    Northwestern’s first Sustainability Director, Rob Whittier, visited ASG’s Wednesday Senate session to expound on details of the university’s developing sustainability office.

    “Things move slower here than I ever imagined,” said Whittier to the room.

    In a brief discussion with senators, Whittier presented his priorities, both lofty and small. “We can position ourselves among the top-tier schools of sustainability,” he told senators, a feat that must take on what Whittier called Northwestern’s strikingly large carbon footprint. His office will add to recent sustainability developments, including a new fleet of sustainable shuttles and food compositing efforts. But there’s a ways to go, Whitter said.

    The forthcoming construction of Kellogg’s new building will prompt university officials to consider what level of sustainability certification Northwestern should pursue. Evanston mandates at least LEED Silver certification, but in a recent meeting with officials, Whittier said “anything less than Platinum is a failure” for the new building.

    Whittier, a former management consultant with Deloitte Consulting’s Sustainability and Climate Change group, told Senate he was surprised at the speed of change at Northwestern. “Things move slower here than I ever imagined,” he said. But he admits officials, particularly nuCuisine admin, are “pretty forward-thinking” regarding sustainability.

    Whittier will serve on the Sustainability Working Action Group, nicknamed SWaG, a collection of green-minded students, staff and administrators. The group, as well as Northwestern’s Sustainability Office, will work this year to create a climate action plan. “We don’t have a good, cohesive message about goals and how people can get involved,” Whittier said. But Whittier, who said he served on student government and hall council in his college days, urged ASG members to help him and others chart Northwestern’s green future. “It takes a few champions at a university of this size to get this kind of change and momentum. To start this off, it takes a few people who are willing to push and work for it,” he said.

    Whittier was the third administrator to visit Senate recently, and will be followed next week by Provost Dan Linzer. Student Affairs Vice President Patricia Telles-Irvin will visit the week after.

    In other Senate news:

    • Senators confirmed Weinberg junior Girish Pendse as the new ASG Financial Vice President, replacing outgoing Weinberg senior Jeremy Yablon. Pendse joked he’ll be “in no way” better than his predecessor, nor will he rely on the advice of his older brother and Class of 2011 graduate, Samir Pendse, who served as Speaker of the Senate in 2010.
    • ASG Vice President Ash Jaidev released the results of a recent Senate survey to gauge senators’ sense of ASG culture. Less than half of senators had actively produced legislation, and many senators expressed discontent with the conduct of Exec Board members during Senate meetings. Besides random assigned seating at future meetings, and general areas of improvement, Jaidev offered no concrete solutions for tackling ASG’s hardships. “We all talk the talk, but we’re not walking the walk,” Parliamentarian Jill Grewe told Senate about the lack of action senators take during meetings.
    • Senate heard a proposal for an ad hoc committee to “increase publicity to Northwestern’s prospective students about diversity on the Northwestern campus” from Student Life Committee member Rebecca Liron. “It’s a problem we’ve seen for a long time,” the Weinberg sophomore said. Senate will vote on the five-member committee next week; if approved, Liron would chair it.
    • Next week, Senate will approve or deny $11,904 suggested by the Student Groups Committee for 36 groups applying for Winter Quarter funding.

    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Senate approved Rebecca Liron’s committee to publicize diversity on campus to prospective students. This was incorrect: Senate heard the proposal at Wednesday’s meeting, but will not vote on it until next week. NBN thanks commenter “K,” who noticed the error.

    NBN welcomes Matt Bellassai, former ASG Presidential candidate and Public Relations Vice President, as Special ASG Correspondent this quarter. Please see our note on his coverage.


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