To the Editor:
I take great pride as an F&M student to be surrounded by brilliant and open-minded individuals. However, I felt disappointed in F&M, in our student body, and in myself after reading a deeply unsettling article from the College Reporter, which as a newspaper, stands as a force of communication and awareness. I had picked up a copy in afterthought as I hurried out of the library, contemplating the long list of assignments and research projects I wanted to get ahead on before my fully booked weekend. Emilie Woods’ piece on campus dining stopped me in my tracks. Her apparent disbelief that the dining hall has started composting and her comment that “Dhall has a little more work to do with food before jumping to environmentalism” illuminates the incredible disconnect between the systems of the college and its participants. How can there be so little awareness about the initiatives happening on our campus? Why is everyone on an incredibly intelligent and driven liberal arts campus—faculty, students, and staff—so disconnected?
The Diplomatic Congress Sustainability Committee held F&M’s first Sustainability Summit this past weekend to facilitate and improve communication between on-campus sustainability groups, faculty, and the administration. The main goal of the Summit intended to provide an open forum for discussion regarding how the campus can form a concentrated effort to create and sustain campus sustainability initiatives in line with the College’s Sustainability Master Plan. In addition, it served to help students find opportunities for involvement. Until now, I foolishly failed to recognize that most people do not draw a connection between sustainability and food. Nevertheless, Woods demonstrates how little students know about the Master Plan, its goals, and the committed individuals working together to make change on our campus.
The return of composting to our dining hall was accomplished through the work of this plan, these hardworking people, and the Wohlson Center, not our food contractor Sodexo as Woods implies. The food system, however, does have its own section within the Master Plan. One of section’s goals is to “make a commitment to using foods, menus, and preparation techniques that advance [its other] goals…, and that improve the health and well being of the campus community.” Both a food working group and students are working with Sodexo to make our campus dining healthier and more sustainable. In fact, I was in the library because my entire weekend will be spent participating in the Real Food Challenge Strategy Retreat taking place at our school when happenstance led me to read Woods’ article. Think workshops, training sessions, networking, and a whole lot of food activism with like-minded students from across the Mid-Atlantic, all attempting to get better food on their campuses. Although I am excited to hear that other F&M students feel as strongly as we do that our campus dining needs more fresh, health-conscious options, I’m disappointed to find out in this way. I’m disappointed that we as an F&M community have yet to find a way to properly inform students about the wonderful initiatives happening on our campus. I’m disappointed that a student’s misinformation would lead her to use a positive change to critique the lack of another much needed and related change. Finally, I’m disappointed in myself for not becoming more involved in these issues earlier in my undergraduate career. We as students have more power to make change than we realize, but two critical ingredients for change are missing on our campus: communication and a willingness to act on our beliefs, to actively engage. Until we find these, change will continue to come slowly.
Darielle E. Christman ‘14
In response to the following article.