Letter from the Editor: Our Green College

By Matthew Korb '14, Editor-in-Chief

This Letter from the Editor was originally scheduled to run in the April 18 issue of The Dickinsonian.

Let’s talk about sustainability for a moment.

If you browsed our newspaper at all in the past month, you would have seen headline after headline about green initiative this or exploratory eco-friendly committee that.  In this four-week period we’ve brought in Bill McKibben, debated the merits of bio-diesel and even had one of the first high profile meetings of the Climate Action Task Force.

Yet all across campus I’ve heard people almost choking on their own venom as they rattle on about Dickinson’s sustainability push. It’s not the fact Dickinson is sustainable that raises their ire; most of the hatred comes from the belief that Dickinson is only sustainable on (most likely un-recycled) paper, not in execution.

Their arguments usually go along these lines: How can a school be so sustainable if it invests in fossil fuels, purchases expensive products, builds giant heat-sucking buildings or lets poison seep into the earth? Nay-sayers have begun to jab their fingers at the recent menu televisions, the giant cinder-block dorms and the recent splurge of construction as signs of Dickinson’s commitment to salt the earth and scorch the skies.
They’re right, in a way. It’s just a very tenuous right.

Dickinson College has been lauded as one of the premier sustainable private colleges on the east coast. And that is true, I am sure. But the reason that we aren’t the top sustainable school in the country is the same reason that we aren’t a lumberjack school in the middle of the woods: students have needs.
Dickinson College was founded before there was such a thing as sustainability. It’s an old school with old facilities and old buildings that would cost a fortune to modernize to LEED standards. Even if we had the money to fix the buildings, we’d need to pour more into getting top quality facilities and equipment that was environmentally sustainable. The cost of being completely green, not even talking about the loss of comfort, is prohibitive to a small liberal arts college like us.

Dickinson isn’t perfect on the green front. But Dickinson is still making attempts. That alone deserves our support, if nothing else.