By Anne Sinclair
After sweeping the OU Student Senate elections, the iOU party has set some ambitious goals to make eco-friendly changes at Ohio University for the 2009-2010 academic year. President-elect Robert Leary and Vice President-elect Emily Bacha plan to modify campus transportation systems. One of the senate’s main goals is to introduce an eco-friendly campus shuttle system.
“We’d like to see a bus system that takes students to and from their hometowns on break,” Bacha said.
Leary said the new senate will have proper funding and oversight and that he is confident in its ability to make the proposed changes.
Under the proposed system, bigger busses would travel to large cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. Sending busses to those cities would make sense because of OU’s many in-state students, Bacha said.
While that project would help reduce the number of vehicles on the road, new student leaders are looking for additional ways to make transportation more eco-friendly.
Leary said he is disappointed that no one proposed getting new buses this year. The university allocated $700,000 for transportation during the 2008-2009 academic year, he said, adding that OU could have purchased new buses with a fraction of that sum.
“I’ve seen schools that have bio buses,” Leary said. “That wouldn’t even be a very big chunk of that $700,000.”
The term “bio bus” refers to busses that have been altered to run on biodiesel, a cleaner-burning, renewable fuel that can be derived from recycled vegetable oil and animal fats.
Senate plans to push for other environmental initiatives on campus such as building renovations and new, eco-friendly building codes. Such initiatives have been proposed by Faculty Senate’s Ecology and Energy Conservation Committee, which Bacha has sat on for two years as a student representative.
Beyond transportation and advocacy, Bacha and Leary say they plan to take a broad “be the change” stance on those issues for which they have no official plan at this point. Bacha said they have made attempts to use as little paper as possible by relying on the Internet for communication.
“We’ve tried to be leaders in terms of our own paper content, but also in terms of our energy use,” Bacha said. “I harp on everyone… about computers and lights and opening up windows.”
With the current school year coming to a close, the student body will soon see how much environmental change the senate can implement in the coming year. Bacha expressed a positive outlook.
“If you have strong student leaders, each championing one issue, and having the support of an entire student senate behind that, I think that that’s an absolutely fantastic way to address [change]. On my list… sustainability issues are top.”