What a whirlwind! It is always such a privilege to participate in First Days and welcome the newest generation of Ephs to campus with a view toward sustainability. As a cross-cutting theme in the college’s Strategic Plan, sustainability is an important value of the college and one that we want to introduce First-Years to early on in their Williams experience. We were honored to connect with new students in a variety of ways during first days, including:
- Presenting First-Year Sustainability Education Modules on Glow. With the support of Dean Walsh, The “Ephs Go Green: How YOU can contribute to sustainability at Williams” Glow course was sent out to all new students this summer via the new student newsletter. The modules were designed by spring 2022 interns Paola Villanueva Astilleros (’25) and Maya Goldstein (‘25) to introduce students to sustainability on campus, covering topics including reducing waste, picking environmentally-friendly meals, and reducing energy use. The modules gave new Ephs the chance to learn about how we pursue sustainability as a campus & how they can contribute.
- Compost Friends: We had a great team of over 50 student leaders who volunteered to educate their fellow students on how to properly sort their waste during part of First Days and the first two days of classes. Our students got creative and increased both compost and recycling diversion by walking around a picnic and providing direct compost pickup to everyone eating. Credit to Ainsley Ogletree for her fantastic new t-shirt design. Many thanks to all our volunteers for their help!
- Residential Life Trainings: Deputy Director Mike Evans and Sustainability Coordinator Christine Seibert led two trainings, one for JAs and another for HCs, on howto bring sustainability into dorm life. Thanks to all the JAs and HCs for working to make their dorm spaces more sustainable!
- First Days Collaborative Events: The Zilkha Center hosted two collaborative events during First Days to welcome the incoming class. In partnership with the International and Sustainable Living Community TAPSI houses, we hosted an apple cider pressing event with apples from a local orchard. Students were able to enjoy the bounty of a New England fall while learning about TAPSI house opportunities. Many thanks to Drew Jones from Hopkins Forest for lending us the old-fashioned cider press! We also collaborated with the Chaplains’ Office to provide a Sustainable Sorbet Social, where we met with students and talked about how faith can help inform and support environmental action. Thanks to Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer and Bridget Power for making this event happen.
- Water Bottle distribution: As is our tradition, the Zilkha Center purchased metal klean kanteen bottles for incoming students. Starting in 2021, we transitioned to an opt-in program so that we don’t accidentally create additional waste for students who already had enough water bottles. Thanks to Scott Lewis for helping us with distribution to Woolf students!
- Root EphVenture: Last but far from least, alongside the Davis Center we co-hosted Root, an EphVenture focusing on social identity, sustainability, and environmental justice. With a cohort of 32 Rooties, 8 student leaders, student Directors Laura Sabino, Cyrus Naider, and Theo Detweiler, and three staff members, we explored much of what this area has to offer through the lens of social and environmental justice. Highlights of the trip included visits to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center where students received a guided tour through a life-size recreated village, Williams-Mystic and the Seaport Museum where students got to climb rigging and learn about Black & Brown lives on the water, and to Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in Albany where they learned about the innovative technologies Radix is piloting to increase food security in their community. On campus, highlights included a tour of campus focusing on social change movements that have occurred here led by Root Directors Theo Detweiler and Laura Sabino, and a great networking event with faculty and staff who pursue DEI and sustainability in their roles across campus led by Hikaru Hayakawa and Brodie Leo. At the end of Root, First Years shared how they found a sense of community in the program, were re-energized for advocacy work, and learned about the broader community working toward social and environmental justice. Thank you to the vast multitude of people who made this possible!
Until next year,
The ZC Staff