By Darlene Leal
To celebrate Earth Month, a global initiative to reduce pollution, RU held the bi-annual SUST Symposium on April 23. The symposium has been held every year since Nov. 2013.
“Starting in April 2016, the Symposium has been hosted by my SUST 250 Sustainable University class, where students work on team-based campus sustainability projects designed to make RU a greener university,” said Mike Bryson, professor and director of sustainability studies.
The symposium is a way for Bryson’s students to show off their hard work and dedication to the RU community. Bryson said the symposium gives his students a goal to work toward.
“I was very pleased at the turnout for the Symposium this year as well as the quality of the questions asked by the audience and the enthusiasm of the presenters,” Bryson said.
Melissa Allegretti, a student presenter, focused on hybrid courses said there are pros to having hybrid courses.
“Since hybrid courses have a portion of its course online, it would cut the cost of gas, money, air pollution and parking for commuting,” Allegretti said. “Not only is it sustainable in transportation, but the university itself benefits from it as well.”
Allegretti explained that with more hybrid classes, RU would have more classes overall, and the school would be using less light and electricity.
Allegretti said via email that her groups’ survey ended up with 71 total participants, and the final results revealed that only about 14 percent said they’d prefer hybrid courses.
“The end results showed that only 57.75 percent of the 71 students surveyed had never taken a hybrid course at all,” Allegretti said. “We did ask the students what their preferred method of study was, and 71.83 percent said on-campus was their preferred method with only 14.08 percent saying hybrid.”
Allegretti said she was surprised by the results, as she expected more students to want to take online and hybrid courses due to the convenience, but it was revealed that during her presentation not everyone had a concrete idea of what a hybrid course was.
“After the presentation, a lot of hands went up asking what a hybrid course even was, yet in our survey, 64.79 percent of the 71 students said they knew what a hybrid course was. Seeing these results led me to believe that students really did not have a full understanding of what a hybrid course entails before completing the survey,” Allegretti said.
Allegretti was also surprised that although full time students are offered U-Pass cards, there is still a decent number of students who drive.
“The transportation survey got 195 responses, mostly from the Chicago Campus.
Unsurprisingly, most people take public transit to our Chicago Campus, compared to walking, biking or driving. Moreover, driving rates go up as the distance from campus increases,” Bryson said.
Allegretti also added her own personal concerns when it comes to transportation and safety.
“Although students have Ventra cards, a lot of students, including myself, still choose to drive. When filling out their survey myself, my reasons for driving and not taking public transport was due to safety reasons,” Allegretti said. “With that said, the group knew safety was a big issue that led to the high percentage of data with people driving.”
Allegretti said her final take away was that sustainability can be incorporated into almost anything, from transportation to signage, to school curriculum and much more.
“I think more symposiums should be scheduled that will allow for people to come together to help the environment,” Allegretti said. “There are a lot of people out there that would definitely help the cause, so that one day hopefully over time it will become large enough to do even bigger accomplishments.”