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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.22
Liaison Roxane Beigel-Coryell
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Southern Oregon University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Roxane Beigel-Coryell
Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator
Facilities Management & Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:
Yes

A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:

The Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) is a student organization that strives to expand environmental awareness and stewardship. ECOS operates a productive and educational community garden, with garden plots available to students and members of the community. Along with a multitude of events, ECOS offers ink cartridge recycling, houses an environmentally-themed library, provides free coffee mugs and water bottles, and loans reusable dishware to groups on campus.

Additionally, in partnership with the Outdoor Program, ECOS operates a Bicycle Program that rents out bikes, provides a bike tool shop and bike mechanics to assist students in learning to repair their own bikes, and enhances the bike culture at SOU through group rides, workshops and other educational events.

The Outdoor Program (OP) itself is a student organization focused on educating students on outdoor adventure skills and ethics. Located in a standalone house on University property, the OP has planted vegetables in its yard space, utilized the campus farm stand to supply food for OP events, maintains compost bins at its headquarters, and contributes as a team to offering sustainable, organic, and healthy foods for trips as much as possible. Additionally, the OP office is furnished with reclaimed office furniture and building materials.


The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):
Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:
No

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

The Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) student organization operates an organic garden on the SOU campus, founded more than ten years ago. More than 70 garden plots are made available to students and community members. Organic farming techniques are employed at the garden. A small orchard of fruit and nut trees grows out front and an information kiosk stands by the front gate. The spacious, 40-foot greenhouse is a welcome resource for growers as it allows us to start our seedlings in the cold days of March and April and can also be used for winter growing.

SOU also recently established the new Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability. The student-led organic Farm produces healthy, sustainably harvested food for the SOU community. It is a hub for education, student and faculty research and community outreach to the Rogue Valley. Projects on The Farm inspire a generation of ecologically-committed leaders who promote a vision of living and working sustainably in community and on the land. The Farm features SOU's first campus farm, which is being developed on 5 acres of land. The farm, which just completed its third year of harvest, has the potential to produce 118,000 pounds of organic produce over the next five years. This food is used to reduce food insecurity throughout the campus community and to provide long-term financial support for The Farm. Produce being grown on the farm includes: strawberries, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, garlic, melon, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, green beans, carrots, winter squash, broccoli, onions, potatoes, arugula.

The Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability uses its harvest for a CSA program that is open to all staff, faculty and students on campus. The CSA runs from Memorial Day through the end of October. All CSA participants receive a fresh box of produce delivered to their office each week during the harvest season. All produce for the CSA is grown and harvested by students on the campus farm.


The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

The Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability is a student-run enterprise that provides students with hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture, program development, fundraising, leadership, volunteer coordination, event planning, marketing, business incubation, and other lifelong skills. Students working for the Farm run the student farm stand, which is held on campus once each week throughout the growing season. Students are responsible for operating the farm stand, from the harvesting of the produce to marketing and selling products. The stand primarily serves SOU students to provide food security by providing a student discount program. Faculty, staff, and community members may also purchase food through the farm stand at market rates. All seeds grown at the Farm are required to be organic and non-GMO.

The Farm at Southern Oregon University is a center for sustainability. The student-led organic farm produces healthy, sustainably harvested food for the SOU community. It is a hub for education, student and faculty research and community outreach to the Rogue Valley. Projects on The Farm inspire a generation of ecologically-committed leaders who promote a vision of living and working sustainably in community and on the land.


The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

In 2013, students voted to renew their self-imposed green fee of $10-$15 per term. A portion of the fee is allocated to the student-managed Green Fund, totaling approximately $90,000 per year for sustainable projects. The Green Fund is governed by the student government's Environmental Affairs Committee (EAC). Projects seeking funding from the Green Fund must submit a proposal to the EAC for consideration. EAC, comprised of all students with a staff adviser, evaluates projects for their impact on campus sustainability and return on investment among other values, helping students to build skills and gain experience in responsible investments and governance. SOU's Green Fund is entirely student-initiated and student-governed.


The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):
Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:

The Ecology & Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) student organization organizes the annual Earth Day event on campus. In recent years, this has expanded into Earth Week, with sustainability-related events hosted by various campus groups throughout the week of Earth Day. Earth Week activities in 2016 featured more than 25 events including a community bike swap, fermentation workshop, film screenings, natural health panels, alternative transportation activities and more. Another event that ECOS has hosted is the Brown Bag Speaker series. The Brown Bags are on opportunity for students to meet with local professionals working in sustainability and environmental fields to learn more about job opportunities, professional development, and networking.

In April 2016, SOU worked with community partners to host "Pesticides, People, Pollinators and the Planet: Safer, Healthier Practices and Policies Conference." This day-long conference brought national and regional experts together to speak on the crucial topic of pesticides, people, pollinators and the planet. Participants learned about the harmful effects of synthetic pesticides, about safer, healthier alternatives, and how to get involved in changing harmful practices and policies.

SOU's Native American Studies Department hosts the Native American Ecological Educational Symposium. Last year, the Symposium welcomed 11 speakers to campus who covered topics surrounding ecology and sustainability. The event is free for students and open to the community for a small fee.


Other campus speaking events related to sustainability include:
"Generation Food: Global, Systemic and Hopeful Ways to Feed the World" with Dr. Raj Patel;
Dr. Vandana Shiva on Seed Sovereignty, Food Security and Climate Resilience;
"Climate Reality" with Bill Bradbury; and
Bobby Seale speaking about the Real Black Panther Party and how all human rights issues today are intertwined, interdependent, and interrelated with ecological environmental problems, political issues, and global economics.
"Religion and Reality" presented by Dr. Mark Shibley, in which he examined, empirically, variation in belief about climate change across and within various religious traditions, thus testing the hypothesis that religion can’t accommodate scientific knowledge.

SOU also hosts an annual Social Justice Conference, featuring presentations that share cultural, academic and political strategies in the following areas:
- Employment
- Education
- Justice
- Healthcare
- Gender and Sexuality
- Environmental Responsibility
- Race/Ethnicity

Each year, the conference includes at least one presentation focusing on the relation between social justice and climate change.


The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:

In February 2016, SOU's Oregon Center for the Arts hosted a lecture by Ryan Pierce, on his large-scale landscapes that explore strange visions of our world affected by climate change.

During Earth Week 2016, the Schneider Museum of Art exhibited In Scene, a group exhibition of eight artists who explore the state of the natural world in modern times through video, installation, site-specific outdoor installation, sculpture, and photograms.

SOU's Schneider Museum of Art recently featured an exhibit by Willie Cole. The exhibit, Transformations and Illuminations, included the installation, From Water to Light which featured Willie Cole’s newest artistic obsession: water bottles. With this material he redefines recycling as reincarnation, repurposing over 10,000 recycled water bottles to create chandeliers and rooms filled with a spiritual aura. According to Cole, “From Water to Light pays homage to the natural feminine forces of water, light, and air, and to the earth itself.” The installation consists of 10,000 recycled P.E.T. water bottles configured into two chandeliers, each six feet in diameter and seven feet long, that hang in a large room.

Rather than ‘recycling’, Cole uses the term ‘upcycling’ to describe his transformation of ordinary domestic and used objects such as irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, hair dryers, bicycle parts, wooden matches, lawn jockeys, and other discarded appliances and hardware, into imaginative and powerful works of art and installations. Through the repetitive use of single objects in multiples, Cole’s assembled sculptures acquire a renewed metaphorical meaning, or become a critique of our consumer culture. Cole’s ‘upcycled’ assemblages challenge viewers to see beyond an object’s function.

Additionally, the Outdoor Program hosts film showings, such as the annual Banff Film Festival, that focus on environmental concerns


The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):
Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:
Yes

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

The Outdoor Program practices Leave No Trace principles on all of its trips, which are organized throughout the year and accessible to the entire campus community. Trips include activities such as biking, climbing, whitewater, hiking, backpacking, SUP, and other adventure trips. Leave No Trace is taught in all staff trainings and is integrated into the Outdoor Program's leadership philosophy as well as the planning and documentation of every trip.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

The university selects a different theme for the campus each year. These have been quite diverse, but all have components of sustainability within them. For instance, for the 2009-2010 school year, SOU's theme was "On Being Human" and presentations and events centered around fostering sustainable communities and relationships. One lecture, "People Helping People: Meeting Basic Needs in the Face of Scarce Resources," consisted of panelists from local nonprofits discussing responsible business leadership.

Other campus themes have included Civility and Happiness. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the campus theme was Revolution, including a presentation entitled, "Relentless Revoluntion: This is not your Father's Mother Earth." This presentation explored sustainability-related questions on the impacts of population growth on agriculture, government, municipalities, climate, etc.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, we are celebrating the campus theme of Exploring Reality. Campus theme events (which are free to the public) include a presentation on "Religion and Reality" examines, empirically, variation in belief about climate change across and within various religious traditions, thus testing the hypothesis that religion can’t accommodate scientific knowledge.


The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):
Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:
Yes

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The model residence hall room open for tours highlights several sustainable living principles including recycling bins, bike hooks to hang bicycles, power strips, and an energy star refrigeration unit.

For several years the student-governed Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) has partnered with Health and Wellness Services to provide Health and Sustainability Workshops for students. These workshops give students the opportunity to learn sustainable life skills such as: how to make kombucha, growing garlic, sprouting, fermented foods, beekeeping, and small space gardening. Furthermore, for the last two years ECOS has offered workshops that teach students how to make sustainable health care and household good products, offering do-it-yourself tutorials on how to make lotion, chapstick, all-purpose cleaners, soap, and scrubs.

Additionally, the campus community garden offers several gardening workshops each year, including seed starting, garden bed preparation, and gardening 101.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

There are numerous sustainability-focused student employment opportunities at SOU, including positions within the Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center, the Sustainability and Recycling office, and the Farm at Southern Oregon University: A Center for Sustainability.

The Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) employs 9 student workers. These positions include the Bike Program Manager, Campus Garden Coordinator, Civic Engagement Coordinator, and the ECOS Student coordinator. Professional development includes internships and volunteer positions as well as paid positions. Also, students are given the opportunity to move up in the program and take on more responsibilities as they progress over the course of their college career.

The Sustainability and Recycling office employs a student Sustainability Coordinator Assistant and a student Zero Waste Education Coordinator. The Zero Waste Education Coordinator organizes and administers activities throughout the year for the SOU campus and community which focus on waste reduction and practices such as reducing, reusing, recycling and composting. This may include hosting educational workshops, tabling at campus events, coordinating recycling events, and/or leading SOU's participation in the national recycling competition RecycleMania. The Zero Waste Education Coordinator may also work with various campus departments and organizations to develop practices and procedures for hosting zero waste events on campus. The Coordinator works closely with the Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator to provide waste education to the campus to improve SOU's overall recycling and diversion rate.

The Student Sustainability Coordinator Assistant organizes and administers campus events, activities, challenges, and workshops to improve sustainability literacy for the campus population. This may include developing programming, organizing energy competitions in the residence halls, coordinating green teams, and/or maintaining a social media presence to engage students, staff, and faculty in campus sustainability efforts and to encourage sustainable behaviors. The Sustainability Outreach Coordinator may also work with various campus departments and community partners to organize events, identify conservation strategies, or complete sustainability projects in their area of interest.

The Outdoor Program employs a Service & Stewardship Coordinator student worker to facilitate partnerships with community organizations such as KS Wild, so that the program can maintain presence and be good stewards of the wilderness.

The Farm at SOU: A Center for Sustainability employs 5 part time student employees as: a Farm Director, Farm Assistant, Outreach and Communications, Education and Research, and Farm Operations.

The Transportation Options Coordinator works with the Commuter Resource Center, ECOS, and DriveLess connect to help students understand the region's transportation options. Funding for this position is provided by Rogue Valley Transportation District and Oregon Department of Transportation. (http://news.sou.edu/2015/11/sou-rvtd-win-award-for-transportation-options-outreach/)


The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:
Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:
No

A brief description of the graduation pledges:
---

The website URL where information about the graduation pledges is available (optional):
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Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:
No

A brief description of the other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:
---

The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):
---

Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.