Mar 2, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
With all of the sustainability efforts happening throughout the Georgia Tech campus, it would be easy to overlook the efforts of the Greek community. About a quarter of Georgia Tech students are members of a Greek organization. There are 56 Greek organizations chartered at Georgia Tech, 37 of which have houses on campus. Approximately 1,400 students live in these houses, which is about 17% of on-campus housing. Yet, with such a large presence on campus, sustainability efforts in the Greek sector seem to lag behind those for the rest of campus operations. The Georgia Tech Greek Sustainability Committee aims to change that.
With leadership made up from members of several different sororities and fraternities, the Committee wants to serve as a catalyst and resource for implementing sustainability efforts in the Greek community. As a registered student organization, the Committee takes advantage of working with the Student Government Association, and partners with the Georgia Tech Facilities department and the Office of Solid Waste Management. The Committee’s primary effort is to expand recycling services to all of the Greek houses. Currently at about a third of Greek houses have access to recycling infrastructure. Other initiatives include decreasing the use of disposable tableware in Greek houses, energy and water conservation, and cultivating opportunities for Greek members to get involved in sustainability efforts campus- and community-wide. The Committee was chartered about one and a half years ago, and is beginning to enjoy some successes.
There are several obstacles that make sustainability a much more difficult proposition for the Greek houses than for other campus buildings. First, the Greek houses are not owned or operated by Georgia Tech, but by the Greek organizations themselves. Second, the houses are largely managed by the Greek student leaders, who have a relatively short tenure in the managerial positions that would be responsible for implementing sustainability measures. Third, many of the services, like waste management and food service, which are centralized for the rest of campus, have to be contracted individually by the Greek houses.
The Greek Sustainability Committee hopes to overcome these obstacles by inculcating sustainability into the culture of Georgia Tech’s Greek organizations. They encourage the establishment of a sustainability officer in each house’s leadership structure. Further, by continuing to be an active member of the Georgia Tech sustainability community, the Committee will promote the continuity of sustainability initiatives beyond the short tenure of student Greek leaders.