Sustainability Town Hall set for Thursday

By Danny Politoski | February 26, 2018 12:15pm
Last semester, Bon Appetit launched reusable to-go boxes called Ecotainer. Now, students have organized a town hall event to discuss sustainability on March 1 in the Mehling Ballroom.
Media Credit: Kristen Garcia / The Beacon

Many students at the University of Portland are passionate about sustainability, but it can be hard to voice their concerns, or even find out what the university is doing to be eco-friendly. 

Last summer, University President Fr. Mark Poorman announced that the University had joined the We Are Still In movement, vowing to uphold regulations set forth in the Paris Climate Accords. However, some students feel that not all sustainability decisions on campus are communicated as well, and wanted an opportunity to learn more.

On Thursday, March 1, there will be a Town Hall meeting in the Mehling Ballroom from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. A panel of experts will be able to help answer student questions about what is currently being done to further sustainability on campus, and students will have the opportunity to voice their own concerns about sustainability at UP.

The panel will feature professors Steve Kolmes, Ted Eckmann and Bill Barnes, General Manager of Bon Appetit Kirk Mustain and Dormitory Composting Program Coordinator Theresa Valdez.

The meeting is being coordinated by multiple students, including senior Katie Bronk, ASUP President Brandon Rivera, College Ecology Club President Carla Cerda and ASUP Senator Sam Starkey. Bronk is also a student representative on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACOS). Starkey served in Bronk’s place in the most recent PACOS meeting when Bronk could not attend.

Bronk, a senior finance major, hopes that the meeting will help students learn more about what’s happening with sustainability on campus.

“I feel like as students we’re not always aware of the sustainability efforts happening on campus,” Bronk said. “So I think it will just be a great opportunity to have a conversation about that.”

Rivera has been heavily involved in the planning, and said he was sure to make this project a top priority for this semester. 

“We want to make sure that everyone feels they know the information about sustainability on our campus,” Rivera said. “From there, we hope students can have a platform where students can say what they want from the university going forward to make this a more sustainable campus.”

On top of the We Are Still In initiative, UP is also a part of the Saint Francis pledge, which commits an organization to respond to the moral call for acting on climate change. 

Cerda hopes that the forum will spark a necessary continued conversation about sustainability on campus.

“The main goal is to have more transparency between the administration and students,” Cerda said. “Students are often left confused about what is being done on campus with sustainability, and our UP website has very little information on it, so we’re left wondering what is happening. Students want a voice in sustainability efforts on campus, and we think this forum will be a good place or it.”

All students are encouraged to attend the meeting on Thursday, March 1 at 8 p.m. in the Mehling Ballroom to learn more about sustainability on campus and voice any concerns they might have. 

Danny Politoski is a news reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @dpolitoski