University needs to live up to self-proclaimed sustainability standard

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

When I chose to attend Southern Illinois University, I did so on the assumption that SIU would maintain a respectable commitment to sustainability. The university brags about sustainable efforts initiatives on the website and through events such as the Green Fair.

In the year and a half since my enrollment, I have been sorely disappointed in the university’s commitment to certain issues, one of which with real and dangerous health effects as well as environmental effects.

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There are currently four university coal-fired physical plants in the state of Illinois, and the only one without a set retirement date is owned by Southern Illinois University. The Physical Plant currently releases lead, arsenic, sulfur dioxides and other pollutants that the American Lung Association has directly linked with lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and asthma.

The coal plant only produces 14 percent of the university’s energy. The loss of this percentage could be easily compensated by implementing simple energy conservation techniques, which would also decrease the cost of energy for the university.

The Physical Plant uses stoker boilers, which are an outdated, environmentally dirty and dangerous technology. These two boilers are generally only used by companies to run tests. This means that most of the emissions that students and community members are forced to be exposed to are not even benefiting the university in any way.

This kind of negligence for environmental and human health is not the sustainable effort that I am willing to settle for in this university. I urge Southern Illinois University to set a retirement date for the coal-fired power plant and make a commitment to non-toxic energy. Let’s focus on projects like installing geothermal heating in the Stone Center, and make them more of a serious priority to the university.

It is time to live up to the level of sustainability that I expected to see in this university. Every other university in Illinois has set a retirement date and even community colleges in the area are researching renewable energy. It’s time that SIU plays catch-up and demonstrates our ability to be leaders in environmental stewardship and stop poisoning its students.

Cheyenne Adams

sophomore from Normal studying zoology

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