Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 61.34
Liaison Jennifer Kleindienst
Submission Date Dec. 20, 2019

STARS v2.2

Wesleyan University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Jennifer Kleindienst
Sustainability Coordinator
Finance and Administration
"---" 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:

Climate Action Group (formerly Climate Ambassadors) aims to engage the Wesleyan community in activism, education, and discussion around climate justice and climate change solutions.

Veg Out is a student-run campaign which aims to increase awareness of the social, political and environmental consequences of animal agriculture.

In solidarity with hundreds of universities nationwide, Wes Divest calls on Wesleyan University to get divest of its investments in fossil fuel companies.

WILD Wes (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design at Wesleyan) aims to develop an alternative to the water-, chemical fertilizer-, and pesticide-intensive conventional lawn cover that dominates university campuses and much of the United States. The group strives towards landscapes that reflect a commitment to economic, social, and ecological sustainability. This commitment is embodied primarily in the practice of permaculture: a design philosophy and system that looks the structures and relationships found in nature as models for creating diverse, stable, productive systems. WILD Wes' landscape design systems use no non-renewable fuels, integrate a variety of native plant species and environments, and work to be virtually self-sustaining.

WesCFPA (Wesleyan Connecticut Forest & Park Association) maintains trails across Connecticut (members are specifically responsible for a handicap-accessible trail nearby) and promotes environmental conservation. The group manages events, which include film screenings, expositions and lectures, and collaborates with other groups on campus. WesCFPA reaches out to the community through hikes with the mentors from NEAT (North End Action Team, an outreach organization) and elementary students. Working closely with the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, WesCFPA volunteers create strong and lasting community partnerships through hands-on experiences.

Middletown Urban Gardens is a coalition of students working with the North End Action Team (a local non-profit) to establish new community gardens and promote healthy eating in low-income areas Middletown. MUG leads the design process and provides the necessary materials for new gardens, but empowers Middletown residents to be the primary stewards and users of the land.

Real Food Challenge reviews Usdan food purchases and works with Bon Appetit to shift Wesleyan's food budget to fair, sustainable, local, and humane food. RFC is the successor to WesFRESH, and is dedicated to raising food consciousness by examining the environmental, political, social, and ethical impacts of what we eat.

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:

Long Lane Organic Farm is a cooperatively run small farm that uses ecological farming practices to produce food for the Wesleyan University Campus as well as the broader Middletown community. In addition to serving an important nutritional role in the local area, Long Lane is committed to providing the community with opportunities for festive gatherings and open exchanges, farm and food education, and hopes to contribute collaboratively to thought and practice at the nexus of culture and agriculture in general. Long Lane is in its first year of operating a 30'x48' unheated greenhouse, where greens can be grown in the winter months, and tomatoes, peppers, squashes and eggplants can flourish in the summer. The fall planting was highly successful, and yielded some good lessons. Long Lane follows a full consensus structure for its decisions and welcomes all members. Long Lane holds a yearly pumpkin festival each fall in conjunction with the College of the Environment.

Local Co-op provides an affordable option for students to purchase local and sustainable food. At the start of each semester, students can choose to get shares of produce, meat, bread, eggs, dairy, mushrooms, cheese, preserved foods, and tofu/seitan. Participating students pick up shares weekly and help once each semester with organization and distribution. Over 700 students, faculty, and staff participate each semester, with a purchasing value of approximately $250,000.

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:

Espwesso is a student run cafe with sustainability embedded in its mission: inspiring a shift in coffee consumption towards more sustainable (and tastier) coffees. Espwesso serves direct-source coffees and teas, which allows coffee roasters to work with growers to ensure that equitable practices are used in terms of both sustainability and taste. All Espwesso labor is work-study. Espwesso is entirely financially sustainable, operating exclusively on student "donations" to cover costs. Any surplus revenue is invested in expanded offerings, lowering costs, or investments that increase our means of production. While revenue is not sufficient to cover the cost of recycled napkins, cups, or other eco-friendly paper products, Espwesso encourages all customers to bring their own mugs by implementing a one-point requested donation on paper cups for drip coffee. Espwesso over the past couple of years has further expanded into a space of social sustainability, where we are constantly engaged in the cafe as a site of organization for a multiplicity of student groups on campus. We provide our employees with adequate training in the coffee industry beyond Wesleyan, as well as providing students with opportunities to engage in managing small business models that are applicable to the working world. We have recently been working with the larger Wesleyan community to provide individuals with basic coffee trainings that might aid them in finding jobs in the service industry beyond the university.

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 Wesleyan Green Fund is a student organized, student endowed, and student run fund created for the purpose of providing capital to a variety of environmental projects that would not otherwise receive support, either from the administration or from the larger student activities fund administered by the Wesleyan Student Assembly. Each semester, each student's tuition bill includes a $15 opt-out fee for the purposes of capitalizing the fund. The Green Fund accepts student, faculty, and staff proposals each semester. Projects are chosen for funding based on their ability to increase the University’s use of renewable energy sources, decrease the University’s carbon footprint, and decrease waste. Special consideration is given to projects that explore intersectionality with the aim of “redefining” environmentalism. The Fund’s members work with project applicants to tailor projects and provide financial and managerial support. The Fund exists to spur creativity, innovation, and collaboration within the Wesleyan student body, faculty, and staff, to empower green initiatives on campus. The Green Fund launched in 2010 and was renewed by the Wesleyan Board of Trustees for another five-year term in 2015.

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:

Each year, the College of the Environment hosts a number of symposia and annual events. These events are free and open to the public and bring together diverse audiences to learn about, debate, and discuss the most pressing environmental issues of our day.

The Schumann Lecture Series brings to campus a number of outstanding experts to speak on a variety of contemporary environmental issues of great importance. Since 2004, the College of the Environment has hosted an annual "Where on Earth Are We Going" symposium. Each year focuses upon a critical environmental topic and has brought to Wesleyan the people who are at the forefronts of these issues.

Pumpkin Fest, co-hosted by the College of the Environment and Long Lane Farm, provides an opportunity for learning about farming and a chance to enjoy an afternoon on the Farm with organic produce, face and pumpkin painting, and music by local bands. The Pumpkin Festival, held each year since 2004, is preceded by a keynote address.

Since 2004, Wesleyan has celebrated Earth Day with a variety of events. Since 2013, Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff have hosted a full month of activities and events exploring the environment, intersectionality, and community connections.

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:

Wesleyan’s orientation program has evolved to focus on a common reading, which is a book assigned to all incoming freshman and becomes the focus of all orientation programming. First-year students engage in multidisciplinary discussions about theme and participate in a Common Moment in which the arts are used to catalyze and embody understanding of the theme.

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 Wesleyan Outing Club offers a wide range of trips most weekends such as biking, hiking, canoeing, and rock climbing, and longer trips over breaks. Past trips have included winter camping in the White Mountains, biking and a Polar Bear Plunge at nearby Miller’s Pond, a sunrise hike up Mt. Higby, and hiking through New England forests near and far. The Outing Club rents out a supply of outdoor gear to students, including sleeping bags, tents, stoves, canoes, kayaks, and cross country skis. The Outing Club successfully applied for a Green Fund grant in 2015 to expand access to gear and outdoor experiences to students from low-income backgrounds.

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:

From 2008-2012, the orientation program had an environmental theme. From 2013-2015, the orientation program alternated between themes focused on equity/inclusion and environmental issues. Recent readings have focused on issues of disability, women's empowerment, and racial justice. In the Beyond 2020 strategic plan sustainability section, President Roth committed Wesleyan to alternating between environmental and social themes for common readings.

Each year, the College of the Environment gathers a group of Wesleyan faculty, scholars of prominence from outside Wesleyan, and undergraduate students into a year-long academic think tank on a critical environmental issue. The aim of the think tank is not only to generate a deeper understanding of the thematic issue, but also to produce scholarly works that will influence national and international thinking and action on the issue. The think tank serves as a focal point for the global intellectual community concerned with the environment. Scholars and students in the think tank are expected to produce scholarly works by the end of the academic year.

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:

Wesleyan has several environmentally-themed houses: Earth House, Farm House, and Out House. The Sustainability Office holds several workshops each year to Residential Life student staff from all residences to educate them on sustainable life skills. Students in the Sustainability Office go door-to-door in houses to educate on issues of composting and heating. Eco Facilitators collaborate with Residential Advisors in dorms to host events and go door-to-door about heating, recycling, compost, laundry, and other issues.

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

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

The Wesleyan Sustainability Office offers several paid part-time internships each year. In the 2018-19 school year, there were three positions focused on composting; one office assistant; three positions focused on energy, waste, and student engagement; four Eco Facilitators coordinators; and 30 Eco Facilitators (peer-to-peer advisors aimed at fostering sustainable habits).

The Sustainability Office launched a Sustainable Middletown internship in Summer 2018 that was first funded internally and is currently funded by Wesleyan's College of the Environment. In Summer 2019, University of New Hampshire's Sustainability Institute provided 50% funding for this fellowship, which pairs a student with the City of Middletown to advance sustainability efforts.

The College of the Environment offers several paid full-time internships each year. College of the Environment internships are for students to do research under the guidance of a faculty or staff mentor during the summer or fall on projects directly concerned with Environmental Studies. These internships are available to students and faculty across the entire University. The internship awards $4400 to a successful applicant. Summer internship can be awarded to students doing research off campus and outside the Middletown area as long as there is a well-developed plan for faculty/staff mentorship. In Summer 2019, 32 students received COE internship funding.

Bon Appetit Management Company, the College of the Environment, and student-run Green Fund jointly fund paid internships each summer at Long Lane Farm. Students are responsible for growing produce, keeping records, managing Farmers' Market sales, and other farm-related duties. During the school year, the farm produce is primarily served in Wesleyan dining halls.

Green Fund also supports summer student internship positions for the student-run permaculture program WILD Wes. Six students were funded in Summer 2019.

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.