SGA and Chartwells team up on new sustainability efforts

DePaul Dining Services have employed a number of new sustainable options for the school year.

According to a document sent out by DePaul Facility Operations before the start of the quarter, styrofoam will no longer be used in the dining halls, and both compostable cups and biodegradable straws will be distributed at The Bean.

“Chartwells has had a long-standing commitment to protect the environment,” said James Lee, the Resident District Manager of Compass Group North America, which operates Chartwells. “Through a variety of innovative programs and policies, we work closely with the communities of which we are a part of to reduce the impact our operations have on the world around us.”

DePaul’s Student Government Association worked extensively with Chartwells to implement the sustainability initiatives.

“We find in our surveys and feedback that sustainability is important to today’s students and it is important to us,” Lee said. “We have increased our sustainability efforts every year due in large part to the feedback we have received from DePaul students.”

SGA has described the new sustainabilty enhancements as a victory on behalf of the organization, as well as a postive additon to DePaul as a whole.

“The sustainability initiatives for this year are focused on making DePaul more competitive with other universities in Chicago and becoming an even greater source of good in the world,” said Sophia Modzelewski, the Vice President of Executive Operations for SGA. “Some of our goals include limiting our dependency on single-use products such as straws and other harmful plastics on campus.”

Representatives from SGA have described creating a more sustainable campus as a primary goal for the new year.

“We follow in previous SGA’s footsteps by making sustainability an ongoing priority alongside our academic and student-centric initiatives,” said SGA Vice President Emily Hoey. “We are thankful for the socially aware and caring staff at DePaul for hearing the concerns of the student body and responding positively, effectively, and efficently.” SGA went on to describe campus-wide sustainability as being representative of DePaul’s Vincentian values.

“Not only does sustainability benefit our own campus community, but it also supports what it means to be a Vincentian and the values that are so important to the university’s mission of doing good in the world,” Modzelewski said. “We are committed first and foremost to DePaul’s students and making their college experience the best it can be, but we are also focused on how the university can reduce its carbon footprint and become an even bigger force of good in the world.”

Much of the dialogue between SGA and Chartwells was spearheaded by the newly-appointed SGA Senator for Sustainability Kaitlyn Pike.

“As the Senator for Sustainability, I help to advise the executive board of the Student Government Association as well as the facilities operations on sustainability initiatives,” Pike said. “While I am newly elected, having only served since the end of the last academic quarter, I look forward to being a voice for my fellow DePaul students, as well as a facilitator among the many amazing environmental and social justice organizations that we have here on campus.”

Pike’s role has been described as essential to SGA’s goals of introducing campus-wide sustainability, as well as creating a dialouge with DePaul’s administration.

“I feel this role is central to the work of SGA which is to provide a platform for student voices and, as is continually proven by our activism and push towards justice, DePaul has a vocal and motivated student body,” Hoey said. “[Pike] is in a wonderful position as a catalyst for student goals as she will work closely with members of the DePaul community advocating for sustainable efforts.”

SGA and Chartwells have other sustainability-related enhancements and events scheduled for this year in addition to the existing policies.

According to Lee, some of these events include the distribution and selling of metal reusable straws, the launching of a Stop Food Waste campaign and a celebration of Stop Food Waste Day in April.

“We have many exciting initiatives planned for this upcoming year, one of which is decreasing our dependence on single-use plastic products, while encouraging students to utilize their own reusable containers,” Pike said.

“Additionally, we are looking forward to the continued installation of more rooftop solar panels throughout campus, which will further aid DePaul in minimizing our ecological footprint.”

Representatives from SGA want to emphasize the importance of sustainabilty on campus and hope that the new efforts towards campus-wide sustainability will inspire a positive change in DePaul’s larger community.

“In terms of why I believe sustainability is critical within universities; because I believe that we, as a higher education institution, are at the forefront of science, health, technology and public policy, and as such, are required to be leaders within our communities and beyond,” Pike said.

“This responsibility allows us to not only strengthen our own voices and visions in how we’d like to see the world, but it strengthens those in our communities as well.”