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C- not all bad news for Bradley’s sustainability

Originally published November 5, 2010

We never thought we’d be excited to see a C-.

That’s the mark Bradley earned in results released late last month by the Sustainable Endowments Initiative.

A C- isn’t exactly a sparkling endorsement of the university’s sustainability. But when comparing it to last year’s D rating, we’re moving in the right direction.

And that’s exciting.

We’ve written in this space many times in the past to encourage university leadership to take a more active role in promoting sustainability on campus, so it’s great to see that it is being taken seriously.

There are concrete changes, mainly in University Hall and the implementation of a new recycling program, that weren’t there a year ago.

It’s not all exactly good news, though.

Looking at the report card without knowing last year’s grade is a little disheartening. This year’s marks were as follows: A, B, C, C, D, D, D, F and F – bad enough to make even the worst students flinch.

For more information on the grades and why we got what we got, visit greenreportcard.org. There you can learn more about the methodology as well as the grades than we have room to tell you about here.

We will point out one thing, though.

Student involvement.

That’s one of the grading factors for the green report card, and Bradley got a C.

The university has one organization, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, that works on sustainability projects. But it doesn’t seem to be an issue for the student body at large.

And if we want to see the university move further toward that A rating, and it seems fair to say that everyone does, students have got to get more involved.

Student Senate last year made great strides, mostly due to the diligence of Student Body Vice President Tricia Anklan, toward a more sustainable campus.

It helped create the university’s sustainability committee. But without more students voicing concerns about sustainability and then actually following up, it can make it far too easy to place the issue on the back burner.

Creating a more sustainable planet is a huge issue, one that we will be facing for the rest of our lives.

And though a university’s primary goal is to educate its students, there’s no rule saying it can’t lead by example while doing that.

As we’ve said before, if universities don’t step up and start biting the sustainability bullet, even if it costs some money up front, no one will. If universities don’t teach their students the importance of living actual sustainable lives, no one will. And that’s why it’s so important for Bradley to take this seriously – to continue taking this seriously, really – because it is a huge institution in central Illinois. And if it doesn’t, no one will.

So while we would have liked to see higher marks on this year’s report card, we’re realists. You’d be hard pressed to find a student who went from a D average to an A average in a year, so we can’t exactly expect that from the university.

But we will say the progress is promising, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s grade.