Thursday, April 24, 2014

New student club promotes ‘green’

Students for Stewardship encourages on-campus recycling and endeavors to create a cleaner environment

“Reduce, reuse and recycle,” Dr. Karen Prior said. The Liberty University campus club Students for Stewardship is beginning a new emphasis on going green with the hopes of educating students on the biblical mandate behind recycling.

Reuse — Give trash a second chance.

Reuse — Give trash a second chance.

An updated version of the Liberty club Care for Creation, Students for Stewardship wants Liberty students to become better stewards of creation, according to Robert Morris, president of Students for Stewardship. Morris said that the club will be focusing on three fundamental areas: advocacy on campus, sustainability with utilities and recycling.

“It’s a slow process because, unfortunately, with things like the environment on a campus like Liberty, where these conservative ideals are so prominent, you find that if you stick up a poster that just says please recycle, their mind-set, their framework, is kind of like … tunnel vision, and (they) say, ‘Not interested,’” Morris said. “But if you’re able to talk with people, you’re able to broaden their horizons a little bit.”

According to Morris, who grew up in South Africa, he is very aware of and concerned for the environment. Growing up in South Africa meant limited water usage, gasoline and electricity. Once he came to the United States, Morris said he noticed an abundance of waste and inefficient use of resources.

“Growing up in a society like South Africa where those things are very limited, (the people) were very, very focused on trying to make (resources) last as long as (they) could,” Morris said. “We recycled everything — glass, cardboard, plastic, pens, pencils. Anything that had value up to the point of us not needing it anymore was given on to something else that could create value from it.”

Morris said he wants Liberty to be setting the standard for good stewardship through recycling, and he believes the university is taking more of an interest in this through the hiring of Morgan Muszall as recycling coordinator for Liberty Field Operations.

“With the recycling position Morgan has, it’s great to have her as a connection between our organization on campus and her as a facilitator that can have the right connections for the program,” Morris said. “(I)t’s showing that (Liberty is) engaging in the issues of today, which, as a leading Christian university, Liberty has the opportunity to lead in this again. This is not something we should be playing catch up on. This is something we should be setting the standard for. And we’re not at that point yet, but it is something we can set the standard for in the future.”

Muszall, who graduated from Liberty in 2012 with a public relations degree, said she has already started working on getting the attention of students in order to encourage them to recycle. According to Muszall, a pilot plan is underway.

“It’s mostly in dorms on the hill and dorms 25 through 28,” Muszall said. “They’re going to have bins in … the stairwells. We’re going to measure them and see how much halls recycle each week. They’re hoping to have an incentive like a pizza party.”

Attaining positive responses from students is one of the most difficult challenges, according to Muszall. She said that she hopes Students for Stewardship is able to create awareness in students.

“I hope people are educated on how this affects them,” Muszall said.(I)n Genesis, God told Adam … to rule over the earth, and that’s part of being healthy. Recycling is not just something that makes money for the university, but it’s also a benefit to (students) and their health.”

Prior, English professor and club adviser for Students for Stewardship, also tied stewardship back to the Bible.

“The concept of biblical stewardship is not just about obedience, but it’s also about being blessed through obedience,” Prior said. “So, not only are we to take care of God’s creation, but doing so reaps rewards, too.”

Prior said that one of the goals of the club is to change the way people think about throwing things away when they could be recycled.

“Recycling saves the university money, (and) it teaches responsibility,” Prior said. “It teaches students, faculty and staff to be less wasteful, and these are civic and biblical principles that I think really deserve more emphasis … (I)t’s being a good steward of the materials and the earth, but also a good steward of Liberty’s resources, which means it’s being a good steward of tuition dollars and students’ loans and
so forth.”

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