PSU to increase recycling campaign

Many schools across the country have launched vigorous recycling campaigns, and Portland State is looking to catch up.

On any given day more than 18,000 students might pass through the Portland State campus. Combine that number with the faculty, employees and guests, and the number of people frequenting the Park Blocks rises still. With such a large community, some are beginning to wonder if PSU is getting a passing grade in recycling. The answer: not yet.

Both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University have Web sites that educate students, faculty and community on the many issues revolving around environmental consciousness. From carpool information to ideas for reducing waste, the Web sites are convenient, insightful and most of all thorough. The Oregon Web site goes as far as listing 76 other campuses across the country that have active sites informing students and community about ecological issues. PSU is conspicuously absent from the list. So why has Portland State not joined the ranks of the recycling responsible?

“We are in the process of hiring a stability coordinator,” said John Shepard, a facilities worker at PSU. “The provost has established a fund to see it through, and we are reviewing applications and performing interviews to hire someone for the position as we speak.”

Even with the school taking such positive strides on this important issue, some students feel it is not enough. Not enough, because according to one student the move to progressiveness must come from the students themselves.

Robert York, a graduate student in social sciences, said the responsibility ultimately must fall on the student body. “PSU does promote recycling to a degree, I notice it. We have the potential to do more as far as being cutting edge, and perhaps be more of a leader for the city of Portland, but we the students ultimately need to make the effort to be more conscientious.

It really isn’t that difficult, and we shouldn’t wait for the administration to educate us.” York, who uses Max to commute to school, expressed his dismay at often finding garbage thrown in recycling receptacles. “We have accessible garbage cans all over campus, but I often see people throwing paper or food in the plastic recycling bins. It really is sad, it’s the mentality of people that needs to change.”

Overall, Shepard remains positive, however, stating that the awareness created by the new Stability Coordinator will go a long way in bringing issues to the forefront for the PSU community. He described the job as being one that will coordinate and facilitate all recycling efforts on the Portland State campus and through out the community.

“This position is going to provide leadership, education, resources and research on many different levels,” Shepard said. “We will be active in waste reduction, working with faculty and community leadership on this important issue.” Dave Erwin heads the committee. There is no firm date as to when the position for stability coordinator will be filled, but the committee met Wednesday to review applicants. Shepard went on to say that he has been very encouraged by the interest and positive response he has seen on the Portland State campus.

Portland State seems to have tripped and fallen down in the race to environmental responsibility, but all signs indicate that the school is back on its feet and running. The administration is extremely upbeat about the changes that are soon coming, and York feels that a good portion of the students will become more interested as information is made available. “I meet people here on campus that really do care about these issues. I think many people are concerned about air quality, the Willamette River and other issues facing our community. Perhaps if Portland State does start to organize and educate the students, we really can improve upon where we currently stand.”Where we currently stand is still a bit ambiguous. Yet the wheels are in motion for making Portland State a much more environmentally friendly campus. What can we do in the meantime to start making positive changes?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; ride a bicycle to school, turn off lights when leaving rooms and don’t use water frivolously. Type “Oregon Campus Recycle” on the Internet browser and pay a visit to the sites hosted by Oregon and Oregon State. Feel free to borrow from any of the abundant ideas listed. Who knows, with a little more organization from the administration and a boost in effort from the faculty and student body, the time may soon come when Portland State can even join the ranks of “green campuses” on the University of Oregon Web site.