Scripps Goes Green to Save Green

Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga approved a sustainability proposal from the school’s Budget and Planning Committee Sept. 7 that will save the school $184,000 this year and make the college much more sustainable.

The proposal, which involves limiting the amount of college material that is printed and altering the offerings in the Malott Commons dining hall, was motivated by the results of the Economic Sustainability Project, which was implemented last fall by Scripps’s Budget and Planning Committee. The project solicited recommendations from three committees focusing on senior staff, food, and sustainability for making money-saving changes to school operations. It also drew on feedback from staff members, students, and faculty members via an online survey.

The Budget and Planning Committee recommended changes that would have resulted in $202,500 in savings, most of which were approved by Bettison-Varga. The changes are set to be implemented in November and extended through the 2012-2013 academic year, which could result in an additional $400,000 in savings.

The bulk of the savings will be made from changes to the food service in the Malott Commons dining hall, which are expected to save the school $104,000 this year. Sushi and steak nights will be changed from every week to every other week, fruit juices will now only be served at breakfast and not at lunch or dinner, and certain expensive items like guacamole will be made available only when a complementary dish is served. The dining hall will also no longer serve Aquahealth® flavored water.

Some students expressed concern that these changes could motivate students to eat at other dining halls.

“I see sushi and steak nights as more of a bonus, and there’s no problem with moving it to every other week,” Alicen Lewis SC ’15 said. “But I hope this doesn’t make people from the other colleges not want to come to Scripps’s dining hall.”

According to Vice President for Communication and Marketing Marylou Ferry, another goal of the committee was to review how printed college materials are distributed to donors and alumni, in an effort to improve sustainability.

“The financial donor honor roll will be rolled up in the fall issue of Scripps Magazine, instead of being printed out and mailed to donors separately,” Ferry said. “This tiny change will save us $15,000. It’s kind of amazing.”

According to Bettison-Varga, the proposal also includes converting printed material to an exclusively electronic format, which is a change that most of the other 5Cs have already begun implementing.

“Board of Trustees mailings will be done primarily by e-mail, saving $18,000 in photocopying, covering, binding, and mailing costs, not to mention the huge decrease in paid staff time,” she said. The student and staff phone directory will also be converted to an electronic-only format.

Another money-saving change involves the Heidelberg Program, which sends Scripps students to study abroad in Germany. The program, which has seen declining enrollment, will now be funded by former assistants to the program after German professor and Program Director Roswitha Burwick retired last year. This change will save the school $27,000.

“Interest is declining, and so we are looking into alternative arrangements with the University of Heidelberg and/or other German universities to provide venues of study for our German students at Scripps,” Burwick said of the change in program management. “This may upset a few, but they’ll survive.”

Along with making the school more sustainable, the budget changes will afford Scripps the funds to hire an Assistant Director for the Department of Information Technology, which has been vacant.

“We have nobody on our campus available regularly to adequately deal with problems that arise with student and faculty computers, electronic equipment such as DVD players and projectors, and the ‘city-on-stilts,’ Sakai,” Ferry said. “[Scripps] will now be able to afford this crucial employee.”

While students responded positively to the changes, Lewis said the school could do more to save money and pursue sustainability on campus.

“Scripps should just water the grass less,” Lewis said. “It will save them thousands.”

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