Castleton’s keystone speaker had CSC soundings students not only seeing green but seeing red. Debra Rowe, PhD., spoke to students with passion about leading a sustainable lifestyle. Her excitement and devotion to her topic was met with debate from some students in attendance during the Q & A portion of Rowe’s presentation. The debate was spurred by a question surrounding the topic of global warming and intensified as personal beliefs were challenged and passions were ignited.
“I was glad they brought it up,” said Rowe after the presentation. “I’m sure a lot of other students here tonight felt the same way.”
Rowe and one of the students continued their discussion in a less heated debate following the event.
But despite her belief in the dooming Global Warming, Rowe’s message to students was a positive one. She provided ways for students to become more “green” like by unplugging phone chargers. She encouraged students to lobby for change including alternative and renewable energy sources, educating and informing the public, and demanding changes and incentives from government and colligate decision makers.
Rowe’s message was one that empowered students.
“Be an educated person,” she said encouraging students to take action, become “environmentally literate,” and choose to and know how to be environmentally, economically and socially responsible.
According to Rowe, currently the United States is responsible for about 5 percent of the world’s population yet it uses over 25 percent of the world’s resources because of the lack of effort to generate renewable energy. These are statistics that Rowe stressed must change.
“[The U.S.] is modeling an unsustainable lifestyle and other countries are following our lead,” said Rowe.
Instead of placing blame on legislature or even students’ current lifestyle, Rowe put the power in the hands of her audience. She cited several examples of students who had gone to their government officials and made a change including a story of three students who called a Michigan senator and changed his vote on a solar bill that, in the end, passed- perhaps because of their persuasion.
To an auditorium of college students, mostly incoming freshmen, the most prominent bulletin of Rowe’s presentation was the idea of “green jobs.”
“It’s not just the obvious jobs,” said Rowe as she presented the audience with several slides that listed many jobs that are considered “green.”
“Every single discipline has a unique and important role to play in creating a sustainable lifestyle,” said Rowe. “Every job will have a green tinge.”
Rowe explained that several of these green jobs already exist, but many more will be created in the years to come. She encouraged students if their “green job” isn’t yet a reality – make it happen.
“You have the power to shape the education you get,” she said, pacing across the edge of the stage. “Don’t wait for the jobs to exist. Create the jobs that we will need for new and healthy lifestyles.”
Castleton has already done a lot of work including the Green Campus Initiative and work done by the sustainability club on campus. President Dave Wolk is committed to the cause as one of 674 college presidents in the nation who has signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
Castleton professor Paul Derby, advisor of the sustainability club, recognizes that a lot has been done already but thinks that CSC has a long way to go.
“Many colleges are doing good things, similar things,” he said in an interview following Rowe’s presentation. “We’re doing more than most, but at the same time, we need to do more.”
Despite the “green” students on campus, Derby and his group feel that they lack the support necessary for wide-spread change. As one student brought up, we are encouraged to “be green” yet the lights in Huden Dining Hall remain on all night.
“We’re hypocritical,” said Derby. “It’s not that we don’t have it,” he continued, “it’s that it’s not talked about enough.