Sustainability survey sent to university community

Nashwa Bawab

The Office of Sustainability released a survey to students, faculty and staff on Monday to gather input on the first-ever UT Sustainability Master Plan.

The survey asks students to choose their highest priority among topics such as fresh and local food availability on campus, bike and pedestrian accessibility on campus and classroom education on sustainability concepts and renewable energy.

The Sustainability Master Plan will use public input to establish sustainability-related goals and policies within a proposal that will be implemented over the next 15 years according to director of sustainability Jim Walker. These goals and policies will include plans on how to accommodate growth on campus, engage in academics and research as well as bring into effect UT community ideas for sustainability on campus.

“During the first round of the Plan process a couple weeks ago, we gathered feedback on the values that should guide the Plan as well as ‘big ideas’ and priorities people imagined for campus,” Walker said in an email. “We don’t really have a ‘plan’ for the Plan going in – we really are interested in what students, staff and faculty think is important for sustainability at UT Austin.”

The working group for the Sustainability Master Plan has had four public forums, where they discussed sustainability at UT and brainstormed the planning process for creating the sustainability plan, according to Garrett Sawyer, a women’s and gender studies graduate student who attended one of the forums and also took the survey. Sawyer said he thinks the group who created the survey did a good job implementing key points brought up in the public forums but does not know if the average student will care about some questions in the survey.

“I don’t necessarily know if from the day-to-day, students are entirely aware of the work that’s been going on in sustainability on campus,” Sawyer said. “I certainly think that giving them kind of the topics that were in the survey will allow them to … be kind of aware of the topics that could touched upon going forward and make them aware of that in their day to day lives.”

Nutrition freshman Tatum Galliete said bike theft and energy-efficient buildings should become prominent parts of the sustainability plan.
“Whatever benefits the students I think they should make priority,” Galliete said in a text message. “I believe that with the population of Austin increasing, the environment is taking a turn for the worse. With a great amount of students attending UT Austin, pollution is only going to get worse. I think tending to the public and informing them about these issues will ultimately help prevent this.”

Walker said while there are many programs working on sustainability for campus already, the future of the sustainability plan depends on the UT community.

“There are a lot of great sustainability initiatives already happening on campus, and those will certainly shape the foundation of the Plan,” Walker said. “The goals for 2030 will be shaped by campus input.”