Nov 202008
Authors: Alex Stephens

For most of you that were here last year, the CSU “green man” started popping up everywhere on campus, in highly ironic cardboard form, to tell everyone how we were going green.

It’s refreshing to know your university is doing its part to help reverse climate change. Or at least it’s reassuring to think so.

As it turns out, we really aren’t doing much to be green. The phrase ‘PR stunt’ comes to mind. Any one of you reading this knows what I mean.

A few years back I remember paying an extra $20 to use wind energy in the dorms. They supposedly don’t waste Styrofoam in the cafeterias, more coffee cups and sporks are biodegradable and CSU is buying larger amounts of partially recycled paper and try to recycle more paper, cans and bottles. More classes are offered to teach students about sustainability. We have several programs for forest stewardship.

Congratulations CSU, we are now up to speed with the environmental movement of 10 years ago.

And there’s more. How could I forget the adorable little police on scooters that now buzz around keeping us safe from all the people climbing the library. How could I be so naive to think bicycles were more environmentally friendly than $10,000 Segways that still require electricity? Maybe they’re wind powered?

We claim to have research experts who develop cheap and efficient solar panels. So where are the solar panels on top of every building? Why aren’t we seeing construction crews retrofitting our classrooms during the summer to be more energy efficient?

According to the CSU Web site, the only classrooms on campus to earn the coveted “silver LEED certificate,” for energy and environmentally friendly design, are on the second floor of the Guggenheim building, while the new Academic Village has a gold certificate.

Before former CSU president Larry Penley jumped ship, he mandated that all new construction on campus meet standards for energy efficiency, which is a step in the right direction.

Do actions speak louder than words? Never mind the annual homecoming bonfire which is incredibly destructive in carbon dioxide release. Disregard the imported, fake, toxic snow for October campus snowboarding. Forget that all the lights left on during the night in our newly built, and very empty, computer science building.

And, as if to encourage more student drivers, and by literally destroying a green chunk of our landscape, we built a new parking lot. Really, CSU could be offering free bike repairs to encourage less driving.

What really confuses me is this: Our money is being spent on, in my opinion, ugly industrial looking statues, enormous upgrades to an already fantastic Campus Recreation Center and on luxuries — such as the fountain within an over-elaborate honors student dormitory.

Our goal is to go green. What I’m seeing is a goal to attract more students.

The CSU brochure probably doesn’t mention the degrading classrooms in Clark and Eddy, nor students being jammed in tightly as class sizes increase while the number of professors stagnates.

I’m scared that my university is taking the focus off of academics and replacing it with marketing gimmicks just to attract more freshmen.

While the green effort does have many positive aspects, and certainly brings our university national recognition, the effort seems misguided.

After all, the point of going to college is to learn, maybe even earn a degree, but not to see how much money our institution can make along the way.

Alex Stephens is a junior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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