Since the original post, there have been many issues that have come to the surface. It is important that people stay focused, and remain careful to not blur boundaries. For myself, that is to focus on Sustainability, as that was the spark that set me off. In pursuit of that at Art Center, I found a need for greater accountability and transparency. I have sat down with various Administrators, staff, and faculty to discuss this issue (previous to the Serious Trash post). Many conversations happened behind closed doors, and ended without roadmaps or follow up action. Now the dialogue is in the open, and I hope the roadmaps are public, and the action visible.
The Administration has seen fit to remove Styrofoam from the cafeteria within the next few weeks. And implement the follow up phase of the 2007 Waste Stream Analysis so that the school can improve its recycling rates. I am happy with the start, and caution those in charge of this. Take a moment to consider this step, I hope it to be more than reactionary. Ecocouncil has been asking about the details of possible Styrofoam replacements for some time now (months if not years), in hopes to assist the school in doing due diligence. We want to do the greatest good we can, rather than less bad.
I want everyone to feel free to voice their opinion. I ask everyone who joins this dialogue, to take a moment, and breathe seven breathes before posting. As a community, take the time to consider what you hope to accomplish in voicing your opinion(s). What is the goal in what you are about to write? How do you envision it moving the conversation forward?
To that, I do believe that the main problems I encountered with the school (accountability and transparency), are symptomatic to concerns and issues that others have raised. Watching tuition rise, while the day to day suffers (increased class sizes, crowded computer labs, crowded parking lots, cut back in lab hours, crowded shop, difficult bureaucracy) has a very significant impact on students and our perception of what state the school is in. When the cafeteria raised prices in the beginning of 2008, there was a little note attributing this to gas prices. While still upsetting to some, the ability to connect the reason for the action was valuable.
As a community, we can see problems or we can see opportunities. The Administration is talking to students and faculty. Lets use that. Erica Clark did apologize to me in person about the phone conversation we had after my initial post. Iris Gelt has apologized for the removal of Nate Young’s photo from the Legacy Circle. Yes, I agree, this along with other recent incidents, is unsettling. She apologized though, she’s human, she made a mistake. Let’s push forward. It is an issue, its not the issue though.
Opportunities are now ahead of us. The dialogue should be in the open. Questions should be asked with purpose (and answered with honesty). Talk is a start, it has to be followed by visible change.