The vision of an environmental, economical, and socially sustainable campus community resonated with our Benedictine values, which led St. John’s to become a charter member in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. The Office of Sustainability was founded to carry out this pledge of sustainable living and has made great strides in fulfilling this covenant, yet to this day the Office is without a director. It is ludicrous to suggest that the SJU Office of Sustainability could thrive and complete its mission without a director.
Without a full time position providing central leadership and direction, the SJU Office of Sustainability has tragically become inefficient and inept. The student staff of the Sustainability Office does admiral and desperately necessary work, yet their efforts become futile without the guidance and focus that a director would provide.
We may make improvements in the physical impact of our campus but we neglect the University’s largest impact on the natural world: our students. The education of our student body in regard to sustainable living is the largest and most critical function of the Office of Sustainability, a role that without leadership has largely failed. The office has a duty to not only build an eco-friendly campus, but also environmentally conscious students. I am extremely concerned by the atmosphere of indifference that permeates this campus. We claim to produce stewards, yet many of our students are unaware or unconcerned with the largest obligations of stewardship. –We must question President Hemesath’s true commitment to carry out the pledge signed in 2007 if he continues to leave the position of Director of the Office of Sustainability vacant. St. John’s fails to provide the structures necessary to progress in a world of climate change, where stewardship is more important than ever. If we are serious in building a more sustainable campus and community a director must be appointed to the Office of Sustainability.
It seems like common sense–no business would run without a CEO, no university without a president–yet the Sustainability Office here at St. John’s is expected to operate without central management.