Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bob Janis and other thoughts

I really enjoyed the talk with Bob Janis this week but a C+ for DePaul’s rating I would go more with a D- and a D for effort. Bob Janis said that next time he would include composting in the report he fills out. I know of one composting bin on campus, it is extremely small, and more of a personal composter than an industrial sized needed for DePaul University. This statement shows he is more worried about the rating than actually making a difference. I feel that all the “behind the scenes changes” is just a crowd pleasing statement, because he only listed changing out the light bulbs and a few changes that he breezed over, I admit I should of asked him to describe each change, maybe this would of changed my reflection. The point is we are not a composting campus and barley a recycling campus. Even the changes that DePaul has made can be questioned, Chart wells who recently switched to corn based biodegradable cups as a step in greening DePaul, may have took a step back. I have haven’t researched this point as much as I would like to have to make this statement but, some research suggests that Greenware’s corn cups are only biodegradable if composted in an industrial strength composter and if they are mixed in during the recycling process they will ruin the whole batch of plastic that is being recycled. DePaul should have done a little more research before allowing Chartwells to switch to corn based products.
If DePaul would hire a Green Consultant, questionable environmental efforts could be researched before implemented. I also do not agree that Janis opposes a green consultant because of money; 180,000 a year is not that much for DePaul. I think that he opposes because he would have to answer to an environmentally educated committee that would insist on changes that he is able to avoid. I do feel that I just attacked Bob Janis and the administration, which is not the way to make changes and create a sustainable relationship.
Here are a couple other topics that bother me,
DePaul re sods around the quad’s sidewalks at least two times a year, Once when classes start in fall, and once before graduation in the spring.
For every DePaul catered meeting and or event 20oz bottles of pop and water are provided along with cups.
Education is the key to sustainability. DePaul should quit saying they would like a required sustainable class for freshman and “just do it”.


  1. Reclaiming Responsibility:
    I though Bob Janis was very informative and seemed to be working steadily towards a more sustainable campus and improving DePaul’s image nationally. However, I was very unsatisfied with his response to the question, “what can students do to help”. Throughout my time at DePaul, I have never felt that the school has made a purposeful effort to include the students when making decisions relating to the institution. I do recognize that it is also our responsibility as students to seek out these opportunities, but it seems counterproductive to make decisions without confronting the student body who are most directly affected. He seemed to amplify this realization when his response to “how can students help” had nothing to do with our role within the DePaul community but instead what we could be doing as individuals in the world. The degree of separation that seems to exist between the students and the administration does not support progressive development but further reinforces a hierarchical nature.
    As such social creatures we intertwine ourselves within so many smaller social communities and I think we should begin to take advantage of our role within these webs. Taking the advice of Bob Janis, reclaiming the responsibilities that come along with our societal roles could be the first step towards change on a variety of scales. This would undoubtedly affect DePaul due to our undeniable involvement with the university. However, we cannot force others into becoming aware of their responsibilities this was made clear to me earlier in the week. I work on campus and realized that the recycling bins in our building were labeled incorrectly, I felt like its hard enough to get people to use them and mislabeling would be one more deterrent. So I brought it up to supervisor and he responded by saying he wasn’t sure who would be in charge of that. Then he brought in another staff member who said they were told that Alliance Waste picks through our trash for recyclables anyway so basically why does it matter. I said we needed to make it a choice for the students and in order for it to be effective they needed to have the right labels. I was so shocked to hear that out of a full-time staff member at the school. But I thought this was a perfect example for how responsibilities get passed from person to person and ultimately lead to no one making change. If we can begin to own what small role we all play as individuals we can at least stop this vicious cycle and contribute towards a sustainable future in what ways we can.

  2. I couldn't agree more with the importance of having a Green Consultant or equivalent administrator at DePaul. I think that this would begin to clear up alot of the problems- right now I would agree with your assessment of a D or D- rating. That being said, the idea of getting a grade is irrelevant to this issue, i'll take a correct attitude over a good grade.
    The constant re-sodding is another example of DePaul's attempts to increase enrollment. I'd rather see them cut class sizes and make it a more academically competitive school than constantly try to cater to prospective students.
    Maybe a good first step as students is to pressure the administration to hiring an environmental administrator- researching potential candidates for the job, salaries, job descriptions, etc.