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May 10, 2010

Three Seniors Leave Their (Green) Mark On Campus

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Members of the Class of 2010 entered Smith College at a seminal time in the history of higher education, marked by a surge in awareness about sustainability and the critical role that institutions play in battling global climate change.

During the past four years, President Carol T. Christ joined American college and university presidents in signing a Climate Commitment and hired the college’s first sustainability director. The college initiated a community garden, introduced reduced-flow showerheads and ended campus use of bottled water. The Zipcar fleet has grown and rented bicycles traverse the campus lanes. Solar panels were installed on the Campus Center roof and an environmentally and economically efficient power system began producing electricity as well as heat for the campus.

Students were critical in leading many of these efforts. Three seniors in particular have been at the forefront of “greening” Smith:

Elisabeth Wolfe of Princeton, N.J. community garden
Wolfe is a founding member of Smith Community Garden, which last summer sold its produce on campus. She began the garden on a nearby parcel in a residential area then successfully campaigned for its relocation to the center of campus. Wolfe also led the Bike Kitchen from 2007 to 2009. When she took over the organization, it was focused mainly on teaching students to fix bicycles and offered a few bikes for rental. Wolfe envisioned a valuable role for the Bike Kitchen in campus transportation and began an aggressive effort in which she quadrupled the rental fleet. She has also served as the student coordinator of the Green Team, a coalition of students, faculty and staff formed to implement ideas and strategies for realizing sustainability, and an intern in the Office of Environmental Sustainability, where she helped develop Smith’s greenhouse gas inventory and the college’s Sustainability Plan. Much of Wolfe’s senior year was spent in the Smith College archives developing an honors thesis "Sustaining Smith, an environmental history of food at Smith College, 1875-2010."

Alana Miller of La Jolla, Calif.
As a member of the college’s Committee on Sustainability from 2006 to 2008, Miller led the effort to encourage President Christ to sign the President's Climate Commitment. Miller also helped organize Smith’s Focus the Nation and Earth Day events in 2008 and the college’s participation in the International Day of Climate Action in 2009. An active member of Smith’s Green Team, Miller worked on finding solutions associated with the waste generated by our grab-and-go dining option. She and other students began this year by interviewing students on their use of the grab-and-go program in an effort to come up with pragmatic ways to reduce waste to offer Dining Services. Miller took that data and, with another student, used it as the basis for her capstone project for the Environmental Science and Policy course.

laurenLauren Kaelin of Monclair, N.J.
As house president of a student residence, Kaelin promoted an increase in sustainable practices within Morrow House. She asked her 82 housemates to pledge to give up taking plastic bags at stores. And, she began a publicity campaign to remind housemates about sustainable options and practices, including those surrounding water and electricity consumption. Kaelin also organized a campus-wide light scavenger hunt in which participants spent an hour turning off lights in administrative, residential and academic  buildings. In her work on the Green Team and as a 2009-10 member of the Committee on Sustainability, she has demonstrated the knowledge that creating esprit de corps is the best route to fostering awareness and resource sensitivity. Her approach serves as a model for campus cultural change.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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