SIU dorm councils to add eco-representative position

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Marnie Leonard

A new student leadership role has been created by the sustainability office and university housing with the goal of improving environmental sustainability in the residence halls.

This position, dubbed the eco-representative, will place one student on each of the seven area councils on campus, said Geory Kurtzhals, SIU’s sustainability office coordinator.

Kurtzhals said the eco-reps will design initiatives to increase environmental awareness within the dorm and apartment walls. The hope is that these students will be able to influence the daily habits of residents so that they will start making more environmentally friendly decisions without having to think about it, she said.


Residents elect the eco-representative for their dorm each semester. Currently only one of seven positions is filled.

Leighla Philpott, a graduate student from West Virginia studying accounting, is the representative for the Wall & Grand Apartments.

Philpott said she’s excited to get started and already has ideas for making her apartment complex greener, such as an inter-building recycling competition and organizing a Carbondale street cleanup.

Her most important job as an eco-representative, she said, is to create programs that work for Wall and Grand residents.

“What works for us isn’t going to work for every building on campus, so who better to figure that out than someone who lives here?” Philpott said.

This is why it was important to make this program a student led initiative, said Travis Hardwick, assistant director for university housing and outreach.

Though the initiative began this semester as a collaboration between the sustainability office and university housing, Hardwick said the idea now is to let the students make it their own.


Kurtzhals agreed, and said now that the program has been set up, the two offices plan to hand the reigns to the student leaders.

“I could put together a program and put it in a box and tie a bow on it and hand it to the eco-reps but then it wouldn’t fit,” Kurtzhals said. “We want something that makes sense for students.”

In their first official meeting, Philpott, Kurtzhals and Hardwick brainstormed ideas for promoting sustainability within the dorms.

These include film showings, putting up signs to call attention to energy and water consumption and creating centralized garbage and recycling bin stations to increase landfill diversion.

Kurtzhals and Hardwick said they hope to fill the remaining eco-representative positions soon through appointments, since area council elections have already taken place.

Until then, Philpott said she will begin crafting her own initiatives to create a more environmentally friendly campus.

“Every day we can do something to have a less negative impact on the environment and our society,” she said. “We’re trying to make changes that will have long term effects.”

Staff writer Marnie Leonard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @marsuzleo.

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