Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
EN-2: Student Orientation

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Aaron Witham
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

The percentage of entering students that are provided an opportunity to participate in orientation activities and programming that prominently include sustainability:

A brief description of how sustainability is included prominently in new student orientation:

All undergraduate, graduate and transfer students are offered sustainability orientation as an integrated part of their normal orientation program.

For the graduate students it includes a discussion of the Sustainability 2020 strategic plan and a long sustainability tour of campus with explanations of heating sources, recycling systems, sustainable transportation options, the campus farm and other areas.

For the undergraduate orientation, the offering is more robust and is described below:

Most of GMC’s “green” orientation activities originated as a student project in 2008 and have since been built on by staff and student workers in the Sustainability Office and Student Involvement office. The current orientation incorporates practices and activities that instill the message of sustainability in new students and introduces them to the values and mission of the College.

First-Year Impressions or Wilderness Adventure Experience--
Before students arrive on campus for the traditional orientation, they are given the opportunity to participate in a group-bonding trip. Some of the trips take place in the back-country, where LNT (Leave-no-trace) principles are taught and the students engage in community service opportunities. Other trips take place within the surrounding towns as students build relationships with community groups and local businesses. For all of these experiences, community service work plays a central role as a way to emphasize social sustainability.

After students arrive on campus for the start of the fall semester, they engage in a more traditional orientation that includes a number of prominent sustainability components outlined here:

Green Guide--
A Green guide on living sustainability at Green Mountain College (written by a current student) is handed out at many of the following events, and to minimize printing, the guide is also offered online as a flipbook (http://greenmtn.edu/flipbooks/green_guide/index.html). Staff hand out small strips of paper with the url to the guide on them, and show hard copies only as examples.

Compost & Recycling Available at All Events & Meals--
All events during orientation offer composting and recycling receptacles with examples of items taped to the side of the bins in order to teach students what goes into each bin.

Free Sale--
In an effort to teach new students the value of reusing items rather than buying new items, a free sale is held. High-value items from the Free Store and Freepo (our two reuse stores) are placed prominently on the front lawn, so that new students are tempted to check out the reuse stores. Sustainability helpers lead these students to the stores to pick out what they need for their residence halls.

Sustainability Table during Check-In--
The Sustainability Office (including the director of sustainability, outreach coordinator, and Green Job Corps workers) sits at a table exclusively dedicated to sustainability. They give out flyers on various sustainability practices on campus as well as the url to the Green Guide (to minimize paper use). A vermiculture bin is also set up at the table to teach students how to compost. Additionally, high-value items from the Freestore and Freepo are featured at the table to pique student interest in visiting these reuse stores. Information on sustainable transportation options on campus are also handed out, including Go Vermont, Zipcar, and the Green Bikes program. Finally, the local bike shop sets up a table across from the sustainability table offering bikes and bike accessories for sale to promote sustainable transportation on campus.

Family and Friends Session--
The director of sustainability attends the family and friends session and speaks to parents about how their students can take advantage of the sustainable transportation options on campus. He passes out copies of the bus schedule (which students can ride for free), gives out discount codes for use of Zipcar (the car sharing program), explains how students can register for the free online carpooling tool Go Vermont, and answers any questions or concerns parents have about alternative modes.

Commuter Meeting GMC Coffee House--
The director of sustainability attends the commuter meeting to discuss sustainability systems on campus. He also hands out a pamphlet on how to green your commute, whether commuters are driving their cars, thinking of taking the bus, or looking to carpool.

Images Dinner—
First-year students are enrolled in the Images of Nature class, the first core course in the Environmental Liberal Arts curriculum. As their introduction to their new teachers and fellow classmates, the students take dinner-to-go to faculty residences. To minimize waste during this event, water jugs are filled with water to avoid the use of plastic bottles or disposable cups. Students are asked to bring their own reusable bottle. In addition, every undergraduate teaching assistant assigned to each class is given a composting bin and recycling bag to bring to dinner in order to divert waste at the various locations. The director of sustainability eats dinner with the transfer student group so that he can answer questions about waste diversion and anything sustainability-related.

Coffee House Open Mic Night—
Student sustainability office workers ask trivia questions (provided) at intervals between open mic acts and buy food prizes for the winners. During this event, the url to the Green Guide is also handed out.

Orientation Play--
The student play highlights the sustainability culture of Green Mountain College.
Topics covered include how composting works on campus and the focus of
our Environmental Liberal Arts Curriculum.

Bike Ride with College President—
New students are encouraged to go on a bike ride with the president, helping to build social capital with the top administrator, while seeing, first-hand, how sustainable transportation is part of the culture at the College.

Natural Areas & Invasive Species Orientation--
Students are given a tour of the natural areas on campus with lessons on practicing leave-no trace principles so that natural capital can be protected. They are also told about opportunities to help remove invasive species, especially glossy buckthorn and garlic mustard.

Farm and Food Orientation --
Students are introduced to the sustainable campus farm, how to help with the farm chores and how the farm contributes to the local foodshed both on and off campus. Students learn how to process farm produce for items to be distributed through the local food pantry.

Sustainability-themed Convocation Speakers--
Convocation takes place the first week of classes. The College has a tradition of selecting convocation speakers who are environmental leaders. In 2013, Robert Michael Pyle spoke. Dr. Pyle is the renowned author of 12 books on the natural sciences. He gave the fall convocation address and spoke in several classes about sustainability, his personal pursuit of nature, and how to thrive in a world facing many ecological crises. First-year students as well as many staff and faculty members read his nonfiction book The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland. Last year, Mitch Thomashow, current Director of the Presidential Fellows Program at Second Nature, spoke about his passion for education and sustainability.

Sustainable Transportation Fair—
Separate from the orientation events, a sustainable transportation fair during the second week of school orients new and returning students to the alternative transportation options available on campus, along with incentives for trying each mode. Featured modes include bicycles, electric bicycles, Go Vermont carpooling, carsharing with Zip Car, the campus shuttle, and the regional bus service which is free for students, staff, and faculty to ride.

The website URL where information about sustainability in student orientation is available:

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