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An Open Letter
Hello! My name is Jenna Phillips (pronouns: she/her) and I am elated to introduce myself as the WUSA Sustainability Commissioner for the 2021/2022 academic year. A lit bit about me: I am in my 4A term of Environment, Resources and Sustainability in the Faculty of Environment, with a Minor in Geography and Environmental Management and a Diploma in Environmental Assessment. I have been involved in various campus sustainability clubs and initiatives throughout my undergrad, and worked for the Sustainability Office for three co-op terms. I also run my own virtual sustainability platform called Clear the Air, which includes a blog and podcast.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Michelle for doing phenomenal work as the University’s first-ever Sustainability Commissioner. I seek to follow in Michelle’s footsteps to advance sustainability as a core value at the University of Waterloo.
As you may know (or not if you are new to the University!), the WUSA Sustainability Project (WSP) was born in 2020 as a rebranded, reimagined form of the Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI). In addition to supporting the WUSA Clothing Project and Campus Compost, I hope to advance Michelle’s efforts related to the pre-established pillars of Consolidation, Communication, and Consultation. I will continue to advance the projects that Michelle had undertaken, in addition to some new, exciting initiatives I’d like to introduce this year. Here is a preview of what I have planned for the oncoming year:
I want to continue building the Sustainability Directory that Michelle brought to life, which is an amazing resource that I encourage you to explore. The campus (and virtual) community is ever-changing, which means there are constantly going to be new groups and projects related to sustainability that you can be involved in. As such, it is important to know what exists that you can channel your energy into, and what gaps can be filled by new projects without creating redundancy. Especially with two cohorts of students arriving on campus for some in-person activities this Fall term, it’s important that to have this information in one place for accessibility and efficiency.
Another piece of consolidation I hope to explore this year is the centralization of sustainability matters into student governance. This could include having student sustainability representatives in each Faculty, to speak on behalf of broader sustainability initiatives occurring within the institution. As a Faculty of Environment student, I often see these sustainability initiatives pooled into one or two Faculties. This needs to change, since sustainability impacts us all!
One of my core beliefs is that sustainability knowledge should be accessible and digestible for everyone. It should not be exclusive to those studying Environmental Studies such as myself, because global sustainability impacts us all and the ways in which we live our lives. I plan to use our existing communication platforms such as social media, blog posts, and student council, to convey information about sustainability. From disseminating the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, to creating a virtual tour of campus sustainability initiatives, I want all students to have access to the knowledge and resources they need to create sustainable change in their lives and campus groups.
Also importantly, I want to make communications relevant to the student body, so we can understand what role we play as individuals, as student clubs and societies, and as an institution in promoting sustainability. I also see communication as a key aspect of accountability; through monthly reports, which may come in the form of blog posts, I will share what I am working on to make our community more sustainable. Make sure to follow WSP on Instagram (@wusasustainability) to stay up-to-date with what we’re working on! Lastly, I want communication with WSP to be a two-way street: if you have any questions or concerns, or are interested in learning about sustainability at the university and ways you can get involved, I want you to know that my inbox is open and I am always happy to connect!
Importantly, I want my work to be grounded in the student perspective. This means that I want to hear from you! I am representing the undergraduate student voice in various matters across campus where sustainability can be incorporated, from large (e.g., campus infrastructure) to small (e.g., independent department operations) projects. As your representative, hearing from you is important for accurately advocating for what you want. As I mentioned, my inbox is always open, so if you have comments or questions, please do reach out! In addition, I plan to collaborate with our groups and departments on campus on my initiatives (the Sustainability Office, PACES, etc.) to develop robust projects and discussions on sustainability.
I am honoured and excited to be your advocate for sustainability at the University of Waterloo, using consolidation, communication, and consultation as key pieces of my advocacy. I am even more excited to connect with all of you in the oncoming year, and to work together to build a sustainable institution.
If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions, my inbox is always open! Feel free to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org .
WUSA Sustainability Commissioner
Jenna Phillips (she/her)