Every year the Princeton Review releases a list of the top 50 Green Colleges as well as a report on sustainability information from 413 schools.
Westminster College does not rank in the top 50 Green Colleges, but it does find itself in the ranks of the 413 schools on the list.
So, what goes into making the top 50 list? The methodology surrounding the list is rather diverse.
According to the Princeton Review, there are three main categories that go into the ranking: whether students have a quality of life on campus that is both healthy and sustainable, how well the school is preparing students for employment in an increasingly green economy and how environmentally responsible the policies are.
Another consideration is student opinions. Student opinions are gathered in the form of a survey and include ratings on how sustainability influenced student education and life on campus, administration and student support regarding environmental awareness and conservation and the visibility and the impact of student environmental groups.
The Princeton Review website states “the schools that made our Top 50 Green Colleges list share superb sustainability practices, a strong foundation in sustainability education, and a healthy quality of life for students on campus.”
“Let’s be really honest, we’re low down on the list,” said Kerry Case, the assistant provost for integrative learning at Westminster. “We’re not anywhere near that top 50, we never have been, and we’ve actually been slipping a little bit.”
Even though Westminster does not make the Top 50 list, for Case, it is important that the school is “at least making that baseline and that we’re making the list.”
The Princeton Review website explains that “out of the nearly 700 schools we considered for this project, the Top 50 Green Colleges (not to mention all 413 Green Colleges that are profiled on our site) are, in our opinion, truly up to the task of training the next generation of leaders, who will be responsible for putting green ideas into practice.”
Putting green ideas into practice is something Case said happens “inside and outside of the classroom.”
Case also said sustainability reaches beyond those that are environmental studies majors or those who work on the Environmental Center saying that she would “love to see all of our students have basic sustainability understanding and literacy.”
When it comes to the environmental and sustainability aspects at Westminster College, the options are vast.
The Westminster College Environmental Center website explains “the Environmental Center at Westminster promotes environmental awareness and leadership on campus and offers services that promote sustainable living and support for environmental projects.”
The elements that fall under the umbrella of The Environmental Center are the bike collective, organic garden, campus sustainability and project support.
A more expansive list can be found on the Environmental Center website.
Case, who runs the Environmental Center with a staff, said that she is always most proud of how the things listed on the website started as student ideas.
“We supported them, sometimes with resources, tough love, mentorship, support and guidance to take an idea for sustainable improvement and helped them make it a reality,” she said.
The Environmental Center and other students on campus said they are aware there are things to improve on.
“I think the students need to be more aware,” said Samantha Bauer a first-year student from Portland, Oregon. “I have noticed that a lot of students talk about the environment but they don’t actually take proactive action.”
Rachel Fisher, a first-year student from Seattle, Washington, said she thinks Westminster can do more.
“It’s the little things, I don’t think there should be an option to have a coffee cup sleeve,” said Fisher. “Supplying an option is letting the students be wasteful. If we don’t have the option of using non-reusable cups, then we won’t use them.”
The Environmental Center is a resource on campus that has the tools to help facilitate student ideas. If students are passionate about seeing environmental and sustainable ideas comes to life, they are encouraged to check out the Join the Team tab on the Environmental Center website.