Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 52.54
Liaison Tom Hartzell
Submission Date Feb. 26, 2020

STARS v2.2

Calvin University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Becki Simpson
Associate Dean of Residence Life
Residence Life
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:

Food Recovery Network
The Food Recovery Network is an official student organization at Calvin, and a national movement as well. FRN helps the dining halls cut down on the amount of food waste, by bringing food to local congregations and food pantries who can then serve the individuals in their communities who are in need. Students volunteer to collaborate with food service employees to safety transport leftover food to a community organizations serving hungry populations. This group is an official school-sponsored, student-governed student organization. The group has a faculty/staff adviser, Steve McBride.

Renewable Energy Organization
The Renewable Energy Organization, or "REO," is a group that is devoted to promoting creation care by increasing awareness about energy that is clean, renewable and sustainable. By exploring the development and implementation of novel energy technologies, REO members seek to broaden their education through hands-on project experience. Their most recent accomplishment is a wind turbine that is now working on Calvin's campus. This group is an official school-sponsored, student-governed student organization. The group has a faculty/staff adviser, Matt Heun.

Social justice coalition
SJC seeks to promote social justice, locally and globally, through education, advocacy, and action. We foster active responses to injustices, specifically in the realm of human rights. As part of a global Christian community, we believe the Calvin community should engage issues of justice around the world. To these ends, we organize fair trade fairs, show documentaries, host speakers, discuss issues, write letters, attend conferences, and push initiatives. This group is an official school-sponsored, student-governed student organization. The group has a faculty/staff adviser, Tracy Kuperus
ESC (peer education)

Students for Compassionate Living
Students for Compassionate Living seeks to educate the Calvin community about the practical implications of its daily choices for non-humans animals, and provide support for those who strive to redeem fallen structures as they explore issues of animal welfare. Through on-campus educational workshops, films, dinners, and weekly meetings, we hope to raise awareness of the current ways in which people use animals, and advocate on behalf of animals in the broader community. They believe that such exercises in self-examination and advocacy will help participants to live as intentional Christians individually, as well as develop our Christian community through compassionate and responsible living. This group is an official school-sponsored, student-governed student organization. The group has a faculty/staff adviser, Matthew Halteman

Environmental Stewardship Coalition (ESC)
The mission of the ESC is to raise student, faculty and administrative consciousness of current environmental issues and to emphasize Christian stewardship as the responsibility of the Calvin community. This group is also described under the "peer to peer education" section E-1 of STARS. ESC is also an official school-sponsored, student-governed student organization.

Sustainability Coordinators (peer education)
The sustainability coordinators are a group of peer educators (10-15 students) living in the residence halls, working to promote sustainable living in their respective residence halls. This group puts on a yearly month-long sustainability education program in the residence halls, called Kill-a-watt. This is a volunteer group of students, their work is funded and governed through the Residence Life Department. This group is also described under the "peer to peer education" section E-1 of STARS. Becki Simpson is staff adviser to this group.

Does the institution have a garden, farm, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or an urban agriculture project where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

Calvin has two community gardens. These gardens are tended by student volunteers and two paid student workers. One garden has plots that are rented out to members of the Calvin community (near upperclass housing). One garden provides food for Calvin's dining services for student meals and catering. The community garden staff host several hands-on events, where students can learn about the garden and help work in the garden (near main campus).

Does the institution have a student-run enterprise that includes sustainability as part of its mission statement or stated purpose?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

Outdoor Recreation and Creation Care Floor: This floor harvests sap from campus trees and makes maple syrup to sell to community members. Students learn about the value of obtaining food from local sources, and understanding what all goes into creating syrup. Students sell the syrup, money goes towards a sustainability project.

Students for Compassionate Living (a student organization described above) hosts regular vegan bake sales and sells t-shirts made from sustainable materials.

Social justice coalition (a student organization described above) hosts an annual fair trade market, which promotes sustainability and fair wages in product production

Does the institution have a sustainable investment fund, green revolving fund, or sustainable microfinance initiative through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

The Calvin Energy Recovery Fund (CERF) is a revolving fund used to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions on campus. Plus, the cost savings from CERF projects are routed back into the fund for five years after project payoff—thereby growing the fund to support future projects.and is described (This fund is not student-governed, but there are two CERF student interns who work on projects, and other students or whole classes volunteer to help with CERF projects)

Knight Investment Management (KIM)
This student organizationoffers a space for students to gain real-life experience in investment. We engage in real-time analysis asset allocation and stock picking to beat the market for our client, using their results to make impactful decisions with real money and real client expectations. KIM strives to educate its members about investments, industries and companies, organizational development and leadership. This student group manages a portion of Calvin's actual endowment, and seeks to invest in sustainable and socially responsible funds. This group has been studying what it would take for Calvin to divest from fossil fuels, which is difficult due to our limited ability to trace dollars in mutual funds and index funds.

Has the institution hosted a conference, speaker series, symposium, or similar event focused on sustainability during the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia, or similar events focused on sustainability:

Calvin Environment Assessment Program Poster is an event which happens twice per year, in which student projects in biology, chemistry, engineering and geology are on display in DeVries Hall Atrium, and students are invited to attend a sustainability-focused presentation

January Series is a lecture series which happens each January. All lectures are marketed to students, staff and community members. One lecture this past year focused on sustainability.

Plaster Creek Stewards, is a group of faculty, staff, students, and community members, working to restore health and beauty to the Plaster Creek Watershed, the college's watershed. This organization sponsors occasional speakers and service-learning events, where students can get involved and learn.

Bunker Interpretive Center, located on-campus next to our ecosystem preserve, sponsors speakers and service-learning events, where students are invited to attend, get involved and learn.

None of these events are student-governed.

Has the institution hosted a cultural arts event, installation, or performance focused on sustainability with the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations, or performances focused on sustainability:

Our Central Art Gallery on campus hosts occasional art exhibits on the topic sustainability

Landscape Art is created by the students who work in the campus garden

Does the institution have a wilderness or outdoors program that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

Wilderness Orientation
Incoming students may elect to participate in Wilderness Orientation, a weeklong wilderness trip during the summer prior to beginning college. Leave No Trace principle are taught during this course.

Adventure Club exists to be a gateway for all Calvin students to learn more about God’s natural creation and in turn, have the opportunity to take leadership roles in outdoor adventures. We hope that these opportunities will lead to a deeper understanding of leadership, management and organization of community-based adventures. This group practices and teaches LNT and is student governed.

Calvin's outdoor recreation program is managed by staff member Ryan Rooks and housed in the athletic department. This program consults with groups who want to plan outdoor trips (such as Residence Life, Orientation, Creation Care Outdoor Rec Learning Community). This program also offers a climbing wall, adventure grants for students who want to go on wilderness trips for spring break, weekend trips, semester-long internships, and gear rental. There is also a 1-credit course on wilderness pursuits, which teaches LNT and is based on campus. During January, this department offers a few month-long outdoor recreation credit-bearing courses in remote locations. All programs and classes teach LNT principles, and train student staff to teach these principles.

Has the institution had a sustainability-focused theme chosen for a themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the previous three years?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

Outdoor Recreation and Creation Care Floor
Students in their first or second year at Calvin may choose to live on the Outdoor Recreation and Creation Care Floor. This floor is an intentional living learning community of 40 students, housed within a traditional residence hall on campus. The community is committed to growing intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally through wilderness based experiences, engaging conversation about environmental issues, and actively participating in environmental stewardship and sustainable living. Students on this floor participate in service-learning, bi-weekly educational meetings, outdoor recreation excursions, and take a one-credit class in outdoor recreation. This floor harvests sap from campus trees and makes maple syrup to sell to community members. This is a living-learning community, funded overseen by the Residence Life Department, in collaboration with two faculty/staff floor mentors.

Off-campus programs:
Students participate in month-long sustainability focused courses during January or May. Courses have focused on outdoor recreation, and/or sustainability and vary each year.

Calvin partners to promote other semester-long programs that are not governed by Calvin, such as the Oregon Extension, PIERCE CEDAR CREEK INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION and the Coalition for Christian Colleges and Universities Creation Care Study Program.

Does the institution have a program through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

As part of Kill-a-watt, a program run through the Sustainability Coordinators and the Residence Life program, students are encouraged to sign up to practice new sustainable lifestyle habits for all of January. (see signup form below). Students also do an inventory of their residence hall room and lifestyle, assess their current level of sustainability, and identify ways to increase the sustainability of their daily life.(see form below). About 450 students participate (1/4 of the target population).

Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

CERF interns work to help implement various CERF projects. http://www.calvin.edu/support/energy/

Residence Life hires one paid sustainability intern to oversee the volunteer Sustainability Coordinators. https://www.calvin.edu/dotAsset/03af5266-4b91-4369-9894-1ce40a4d55e7.pdf

The biology department hires several students for research, helping in greenhouse, working at the ecosystem preserve, and managing the campus garden.

Plaster Creek Stewards hires paid student interns. http://www.calvin.edu/admin/provost/pcw/

The outdoor recreation program hires several student staff to teach Leave No Trace and lead wilderness trips. https://www.calvin.edu/athletics/outdoor-recreation/

Most student job openings are posted on a password protected Job site:

Several students are hired as sustainability interns, working on STARS, SIMAP and Second Nature reports.

Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):

None, that I am aware of...

A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:

Plaster Creek Stewards
Governed through the provost office, involves students, staff, faculty, and community members, and seeks to educate the community about watershed ecology, and to develop a growing group of people who understand the strengths, needs, and problems affecting the Plaster Creek Watershed.

We seek to equip people to take action to restore their watershed. Ways we do this include:

Presentations on watersheds, history and issues in the Plaster Creek Watershed, and things people can do to improve water quality in Plaster Creek.

An annual summer workshop at Calvin College. We consider topics such as the theological foundations for environmental stewardship, and review the basics of watershed ecology. This event also includes a chance to tour the creek and participate in restoration activities.

We host an event each spring and fall, which includes a presentation on Plaster Creek and opportunities to participate in on-the-ground restoration work.


Students in a new biology class are gathering water quality data, including flow rates, E. coli concentrations, and more. These data will be used to track changes in water quality over time. We are also gathering data on the early history of the watershed, and record oral histories from community members who have lived or worked in the watershed.

On-the-ground Restoration

Most of our events include some form of on-the-ground work in the watershed. Examples of this include installing rain gardens, stenciling storm drains with 'dump no waste' icons, restoring native vegetation along the creek, and planting trees and wetland plants in tributaries to the creek. Practices that use plants to stabilize soil and filter runoff are essential to improving water quality. We have our own native plant nursery and landscaping initiative, called 'Native Landscapes', which we use to implement many of these projects.

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data sources:
Dave Warners, Gail Hefner, Becki Simpson

Student Organization websites:

Community Garden website:

Student-run enterprise website:

http://www.calvin.edu/support/energy/ and

Conferences focusing on students:
https://www.calvin.edu/admin/provost/sustainability/initiatives/ceap/ http://www.calvin.edu/january-series/speakers/ http://www.calvin.edu/admin/provost/pcw/

Cultural and Art events:
http://www.calvin.edu/go/kill-a-watt https://www.facebook.com/CalvinCommunityGarden/photos/pb.209099422538160.-2207520000.1450294366./743365062444924/?type=3&theater

Leave No Trace programs:
http://www.calvin.edu/offices-services/orientation/programs/wilderness-orientation/ https://www.calvin.edu/offices-services/student-organizations/outdoor-recreation-adventure-club

Themed semesters:

Sustainable Life Skills:


Student job openings are posted on a password protected Job site:
Description of some sustainability jobs can be found here:

Other co-curricular programs:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.