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Students Demand the University clean up their act

Students Demand the University clean up their act

University of Auckland students have demanded that their Vice-Chancellor implement the University Environmental Management Plan, which would include recycling facilities for students in both study and social areas.

Both staff and students have signed the petition that backs staff lead requests dating back to the late 90’s. “We wanted to build upon the good work previously championed by staff,” states petition coordinator Craig Omundsen “this demonstrates that we are not a small band of students demanding extreme measures. What we are asking for is supported University-wide.”

The petition has already received over 2,500 signatures in the first week and 5,000 signatures are expected before it is presented at the Student Life Commission Forum this Friday.

The Student Life Commission is a Vice-Chancellors’ Project that surveyed what students at Auckland University wanted. One of these requests being was recycling in study and social areas. As the process from consultation to recommendations continued the Environment Taskforce found that the Universities own Environmental Policy included these recommendations, yet although the document had been approved in 1998 it has not yet been implemented.

“The petition was born from the knowledge that it has been five years and the Environmental Policy has still not been put into action,” exclaims Craig “now further recommendations have been made from staff and students through the [Environment] Taskforce and we want to see this good work actioned upon.”

With over 25,000 staff and students the University of Auckland is the size of a New Zealand town placed within the Auckland CBD. Legality of the Environmental Policy aside the University can be seen as having an ethical responsibility. “Leading Universities do exactly that – lead,” explains the Engineering Faculty petition coordinator Carl Chenery, “The University has the opportunity to step in and lead by example and build an international reputation of environmental responsibility, which is what the institution professes to teach.”

In the past the University has reacted well to the power and water crisis’s, and has since then put in systems to reduce the consumption of both electricity and water. However, says Craig, the petition signatories have indicated that they want the University to be proactive, not reactive, on this issue.

“Throughout petitioning we’ve all had a lot of positive feedback from staff and students alike. We’ve found that although they do not have the time to lobby the University, they do want to be proud of their University for its environmental practises,” says Craig “They also want to be able to easily recycle their bottles, cans and paper on campus and know that it will be processed into further products that will be used again and again.”

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