Hello everyone, my name’s Jay, and I’m running to be your next Environment and Ethics Officer. I am in my second to last year third year, and want to run is because I am extremely passionate about sustainability and the environment (I even study Environment for a degree), and want to improve the university in this respect. I believe however; that any campaigns or environmental policies YUSU or the University make should not negatively affect students and should instead work with them to create a better campus for all.
I already have experience in both student committees and groups and environmental volunteering. I have been the Vice-Chair for Events for Vanbrugh college last year, and so know my way around YUSU, creating events and campaigns. I also know how to engage with students, from having a range of other positions on society committees. I also have good leadership and organisational skills, and prioritise looking for creative solutions to obstacles. At home I also volunteer in litter picks and localised sustainability campaigns. Overall I really want to up my commitment to the visibility of environmental sustainability and the university and it’s students, and think this is the best way for me to do that. My manifesto is therefore to:
Promote a better campus-wide mindset to sustainability, by making greener lifestyle changes more visible to everyone. These behavioural changes are small, but by making them more visible and important to students, we can achieve a more environmentally friendly university. This would include campaigns and incentives to encourage students to, for example:
• Recycle and produce less waste, especially in terms of food. Food waste bins in campus accommodation are not fully used and improving this would improve sustainability.
• Switching off lights, especially in rooms not being used.
• Reducing the impact of societies, especially through a reduction of waste. Many societies use large quantities materials and encouraging recycling of this, or providing recycled paper, can benefit sustainability for everyone.
• Creating sustainable events and activities such as a clothes swap, to reduce waste.
Keep students and YUSU up to date with national and global campaigns, and make sure that we provide an easy way for students to get involved with these campaigns.
• The campaign last year for fossil fuel divestment in York was a fantastic way for students to become involved with a national initiative, and is a great example of how we can do more in the future. In that respect I would particularly like the university to become involved with the campaign for reducing air pollution in York, which is currently a big problem.
• I also want to provide and create links to liaise with local community groups, local businesses and residents. This would help students who are interested in environmental volunteering.
Improve YUSU’s and the University’s environmental footprint and policies towards sustainability, for example by:
• Providing ‘no junk mail’ signs to students for both on and off campus accommodation. This will help reduce the amount of paper and plastic currently wasted in unwanted ads and flyers.
• Ensuring YUSU appoints and uses environmentally responsible suppliers wherever practical.
• Encourage the university to upgrade its heat energy sources. The university uses a central boiler, parts of which date back to the 1960s. By encouraging the university to upgrade facilities towards more modern technology, following the universities policies and goals, the uni can become more sustainable.
• Maintain work on sustainability through reducing meat consumption across campus, such as by further increasing vegan options at catering outlets. (The current work of the E&E officer on meat-free Mondays has benefited sustainability greatly, giving us a great cornerstone with which we can work off).
• Provide a electronic device recycling bin at YUSU whereby students can donate discarded devices that would otherwise go to trash to be recycled instead.
• Lobby the university to replace old, more wasteful facilities across campus with more sustainable versions. For example, there are older bathrooms and buildings across campus that do not have taps or lights which automatically switch off. In addition, there are also spaces which use old, incandescent lighting, which could be replaced with LED lighting or CFL bulbs which last longer.
Implementing manageable schemes and campaign. This includes listening to and working with feedback, both positive and negative, from student groups, as well as addressing flaws with environmental initiatives. For example:
• Recently the YorCup scheme has seen some student dissatisfaction, so it would be my aim to work with students to improve schemes such as this, or address feedback.
• Being mindful of the concerns of other minority groups here at the university. For example, completely eradicating single use items, such as straws, cups, receipts and packaging is not viable as disabled students may require these convenience options to be available, and with no issue in asking for them.
Encourage cycling, including:
• Making cycling more accessible. In years past the university ran a second hand bike sale. Encouraging the university to bring second hand bike sales back and promote them - which will both open cycling up to more students and help recycle recovered bikes at the end of each year.
• Improve visibility of the wide range of cycling incentives the university already has in place, such as cycle pumps, which exist all around campus.
• Improve bicycle safety in response to student worries and complaints about theft. In addition, older university initiates, such as OperationSpoke, which digitally labelled peoples bikes for identification in case of theft, were good policies that should be expanded and brought fully to student attention.
Encourage participation with the Environment and Ethics subcommittee, so more students can get involved and shape a vision which is in line with student needs. With this in mind I would also:
• Create talks, activities and workshops, including inviting experts in the field to York, to encourage sustainability and improve awareness of campaigns and events.
In conclusion a vote for Jay is a vote for a more sustainable, and ethical, students union.
Thank you for reading- and remember to vote for the candidate in the hat!