Annenberg Radio

Students believe USC could be more sustainable in response to a new report

USC has reached 85% of the environmental goals they’ve aimed for, but is it enough?

USC’s Green Week sets to empower, inform and engage students in sustainable practices. But, the environmental initiatives taken by the university are less than impressive when compared to other institutions in the country. How are students taking steps to embody a green lifestyle? Esther Quintanilla has the story.

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In light of Green Week at USC we must ask the question, how sustainable are Trojans? You might be surprised at the answer.

In a new report from the Office of Sustainability, USC has reached 85% of the environmental goals outlined in their 2020 Sustainability Plan.

However, Trojans believe that the university can do more.

SUN DIATA: I don’t know how much USC is actually doing its part as such a big institution. I’m curious about how much aesthetic is given more attention than actual sustainability. That includes the effects the campus has on the region outside of the campus as well.

SIERRA DAGUE: In some ways they are and in some ways they aren’t. I’ve noticed in the dining halls they envision, like Trojans don’t waste, envision yourself on a waste-free campus, but then like, they have us using like plastic or paper plates. And then we have to throw all of the food that we didn’t finish eating away rather than compost it. So they’re taking steps, but there’s still more that needs to be done.

EOYAN HU: Some parts, I think could be improved such as water bottles. I don’t see as many fountains as my other school had that just allow you to put your water bottle there to refill.

LIN DA: In my home country, especially in some big cities, we would like categorize different things for recycle. But here I do not see a lot of things like that

SUN DIATA: I mean, USC is a very powerful institution and just the fact that it’s not known for sustainability itself, that’s not one of the things that you think about when you think of USC. So they probably for sure can do more

SIERRA DAGUE: Just really enforcing the separating waste between like plastic, recycling and compost.

EOYAN HU: It’s definitely needed going forward, especially with increasing emissions and helping combat, climate change and stuff like that.

SIERRA DAGUE: I’ve also started going plastic-free slowly, like one at a time, like instead of using plastic containers that have soap and conditioner and shampoo, I use soap bars.

SUN DIATA: I try to, you know, I recycle, I garden, I compost and it all kind of just a part of my daily life.

USC makes the list of the Princeton Review’s “Green Colleges,” but its sustainable efforts are not as impressive compared to other universities in the state. On the list of “Green College Honor Roll” are top private institutions Loyola Marymount University, with solar energy accounting for 50% of its power, and Stanford University, which committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

In February, The Investment Committee of the USC Board of Trustees announced it was freezing its investments in fossil fuels and divesting from existing fossil fuel holdings.

On Wednesday, the university announced the official rating of its sustainable efforts via email. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) gave USC a Silver rating, which is “higher than [they] were initially expecting.”

Mick Dalrymole, the Chief Sustainability Officer said to “realize this is only the starting point” and the university is “setting much more lofty goals for achieving sustainability.”