Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.01
Liaison Rebecca Walker
Submission Date April 13, 2022

STARS v2.2

Southern Oregon University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Rebecca Walker
Sustainability Manager
Facilities, Management, Sustainability and Planning
"---" 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:

The Student Sustainability Team is a program of the Social Justice and Equity Center. This group maintains an office that offers a number of sustainability resources such as ink and toner cartridge recycling, pen and candy/bar wrapper recycling, transportation resources, beverage container upcycling, a dish loan program (on pause due to covid), and the Student Food Pantry. The Student Sustainability Team also operates the SOU Community Garden, engages students in campus and community volunteer events, employs student educators and leaders, hosts events, and advocates for a sustainable campus.

The Outdoor Program (OP) is a student organization focused on educating students on outdoor adventure skills and ethics. The OP has utilized the campus farm stand to supply food for OP events and contributes as a team to offering sustainable, organic, and healthy foods for trips as much as possible.

Additionally, there are multiple active multicultural student groups including the Native American Student Union, the Black Student Union, the Latino Student Union, the International Student Association, the Ho'opa Hawaii Club, the Asian Student Union, as well as a Queer Student Union.

The Environmental Education Club hosts events and outings for students interested in environmental education.

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:

The Social Justice and Equity Center/Student Sustainability operates the SOU Community Garden. More than 70 garden plots are made available to students and community members. Organic farming techniques are employed in the garden. A small orchard of fruit and nut trees grows out front and an information kiosk stands by the front gate. The spacious, 40-foot greenhouse is a welcome resource for growers as it allows us to start our seedlings in the cold days of March and April and can also be used for winter growing.

SOU is also home to the Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability. The student-led organic Farm produces healthy, sustainably harvested food for the SOU community. It is a hub for education, student and faculty research, and community outreach to the Rogue Valley. Projects on The Farm inspire a generation of ecologically-committed leaders who promote a vision of living and working sustainably in the community and on the land. The Farm features SOU's first campus farm, which is being developed on 5 acres of land. This food is used to reduce food insecurity throughout the campus community and to provide long-term financial support for The Farm. Produce is grown on the farm includes strawberries, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, garlic, melon, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, green beans, carrots, winter squash, broccoli, onions, potatoes, arugula.

The Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability uses its harvest for a CSA program that is open to all staff, faculty, and students on campus. The CSA runs from Memorial Day through the end of October. All CSA participants receive a fresh box of produce each week during the harvest season. All produce for the CSA is grown and harvested by students on the campus farm.

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:

The Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability is a student-run enterprise that provides students with hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture, program development, fundraising, leadership, volunteer coordination, event planning, marketing, business incubation, and other lifelong skills. Students working for the Farm run the student farm stand, which is held on campus once each week throughout the growing season. Students are responsible for operating the farm stand, from the harvesting of the produce to marketing and selling products. The farm primarily serves SOU students through sales to the campus dining facilities and through a CSA. Faculty, staff, and community members may also participate in the CSA program. All seeds grown at the Farm are required to be non-GMO.

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:

In 2013, students voted to renew their self-imposed green fee of $10-$15 per term. The fee is allocated to the student-managed Green Fund, totaling approximately $90,000 per year for sustainable projects. The Green Fund is governed by the student government's Environmental Affairs Committee (EAC). Projects seeking funding from the Green Fund must submit a proposal to the EAC for consideration. EAC, comprised of all students with a staff adviser, evaluates projects for their impact on campus sustainability and return on investment among other values, helping students to build skills and gain experience in responsible investments and governance. SOU's Green Fund is entirely student-initiated and student-governed.

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:

The Student Sustainability Team organizes an annual “Earth Week” series of events every April. In 2021, they expanded the event to the entire month of April. Events in April 2021 included an alumni speaker, coordination of an SOU EcoChallenge team, a film screening, a storytelling event, a food cook-off event, a speakers panel on intersectional environmentalism, and more. For more details visit: https://sustainability.sou.edu/sou-earth-month-2021/

Since spring 2020, the Student Sustainability Team has hosted "Equity Roundtable" events two times per quarter, or six+ per year. These are speaker and discussion events with a different social equity topic per event, in collaboration with different campus and community partners. Topics have included: intersectionality, resistance/resilience, student food insecurity, housing insecurity, and houselessness, disability and ableism, anti-racism, policing, and barriers to higher education. And prior to the pandemic, the roundtables were held in person as quarterly conversations and educational programs called "Environmental Justice Talks."

Hannon Library hosts a speaker series, frequently featuring speakers focused on sustainability and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Recent topics have included: Keepers of the Flame: Indigenous Burning Practices and the Future of Land Management on 11/11/21, and Graphic Novels, Equity, Diversity, and Lowrider Technology on 10/14/2021. https://hanlib.sou.edu/friends/lectureseries2021-22.html

In addition to the Equity Roundtables and Earth Week, the Student Sustainability Team also organizes many quarterly events focused on sustainability, specifically on sustainable transportation, sustainable food systems, basic needs resources, and zero waste- visit https://www.facebook.com/studentsustainability/ and
https://www.instagram.com/sou_studentsustainability/ for listings of past events.

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:

The SOU Music department hosts a Food Pantry Benefit Concert for the SOU community each year. The concert features student musicians and the goal is to highlight the issue of student food insecurity and hunger in our community. Attendees are encouraged to become more civically engaged around these issues.

Plastic Bottle and Eco-bricks art installation: this artwork was installed on campus in Spring Term 2021 representing single-use plastic through eco-bricks being made in single use plastic bottles filling a 6-foot structure made from wire-shaped like a plastic bottle.

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:

The Outdoor Program practices Leave No Trace principles on all of its trips, which are organized throughout the year and accessible to the entire campus community. Trips include activities such as biking, climbing, whitewater, hiking, backpacking, SUP, and other adventure trips. Leave No Trace is taught in all staff trainings and is integrated into the Outdoor Program's leadership philosophy as well as the planning and documentation of every trip.

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:

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:

The model residence hall room open for tours highlights several sustainable living principles including recycling bins, bike hooks to hang bicycles, power strips, and an energy star refrigeration unit.

The Student Sustainability Team hosted an Instagram-based series "crafting with Tai" during remote schooling, featuring bi-weekly short videos on sustainable crafting tutorials such as candle making from wax scraps, DIY beauty products, and more.

The Farm at SOU offers several basic gardening workshops each year, including seed starting, garden bed preparation, and composting 101.

SOU has a close partnership with Rogue Valley Transportation District where RVTD staff come to SOU and give self-help bicycle repair and riding lessons. Students may also use the multiple bike fix-it stations throughout campus, and the Outdoor Program office has a full bike workshop available to students for their individual use.

The SOU Student Food Pantry hosts an annual "Student Food Pantry Cook-off" where SOU faculty, staff, and students use ingredients from the SOU Food Pantry to cook a nutritious meal in a fun competition-style format that teaches students new cooking skills.

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

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

There are numerous sustainability-focused student employment opportunities at SOU, including positions within the Student Sustainability Team, the Social Justice and Equity Center, the Sustainability and Recycling office, and the Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability.

The Student Sustainability Team employs 10-12 student workers. These positions include the Transportation Options Coordinator, the Community Garden Coordinators, the Student Director, the Climate Justice, and Resilience Fellow, the Sustainable Food Systems Coordinators, the Student Food Pantry Coordinator, the Communications Coordinator, and the Basic Needs, Coordinator. They also engage an average of 10 student interns and assistants (most paid through Federal Work-Study).

The Sustainability Office employs a student Sustainability Coordinator Assistant and a student Zero Waste Education Coordinator. They also employ an average of four student employees to work in the SOU Recycling Center.

The Outdoor Program employs a Service & Stewardship Coordinator student worker to facilitate partnerships with community organizations such as KS Wild so that the program can maintain its presence and be good stewards of the wilderness.

The Farm at SOU: A Center for Sustainability employs 5 part-time student employees as: a Farm Director, Farm Assistant, Outreach and Communications, Education and Research, and Farm Operations.

The Social Justice and Equity Center's Racial Justice and Gender and Sexuality Justice Teams each employ 6-10 student employees working on outreach, education, support and engagement.

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):

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

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.