At a large university, sustainability is key.
Penn State students are looking to help others make a difference in their clubs at the university through the first Student Sustainability Summit from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Heritage Hall.
The Sustainability Institute, University Park Undergraduate Association, Union and Student Activities and the Student Sustainability Advisory Council will host the summit.
The organizers invited leaders from student groups to participate in the summit, but they also encouraged independent students to register to gain differing opinions, said Marybeth McGinnis, an intern at the Sustainability Institute.
The main focuses of the summit are to make student groups aware of the resources available to them, to start a sustainability project and to make the groups aware of other groups with whom they can collaborate, said Evan McTague, UPUA’s deputy director of sustainability.
The student organizers see their role as funneling student requests where they need to go and helping them get their projects off the ground, McTague (junior- security and risk analysis) said.
“[We’re] bridging the information gap; information doesn’t trickle down [from the administration] to student groups,” said Megan Ruffe, a member of SSAC. “[We’re] expanding the borders of sustainability beyond environmentalism.”
Students don’t know how much the administration has embraced sustainability and they don’t know how to make their voices heard, McGinnis (junior-geography) said.
The plan is to have smaller group discussions — with the student organizers acting as facilitators — and then to come together as a larger group at the end, Ruffe (senior- geography and film and video) said.
The facilitators will pose big questions, such as what would a sustainable Penn State look like, and within their small groups, students will discuss their ideas, McGinnis said.
The organizers believe it’s important to not have a “big build up and then drop off,” McTague said. After the summit, the organizers plan to sit down and review the ideas that students came up with at the event. Then, they hope to meet with student groups to help kick start their projects.