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  • AASHE-STARS

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 55.50
Liaison Alistair Hall
Submission Date July 22, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Vassar College
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Alistair Hall
Sustainability Assistant
Dean of Strategic Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that fall into the following categories?:
Yes or No
Active student groups focused on sustainability Yes
Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems Yes
Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes Yes
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
Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles Yes
Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences Yes
Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills Yes
Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution Yes
Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions No
Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives Yes

The name and a brief description of each student group focused on sustainability:

Vassar Greens pursue environmental and social justice through action-based campaigns that create lasting change (from their mission statement).

Slow Food Vassar is a chapter of Slow Food USA that works to promote local, sustainably produced food through weekly meetings, scheduled dinners and cooking lessons.

Vassar Animal Rights Coalition works to promote a cruelty-free diet on campus and in the Poughkeepsie Community. They are best known for their promotion of Meatless Mondays; a pledge to forego meat products on Mondays.


The website URL where information about student groups is available:
A brief description of gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems:

Vassar Experimental Garden (VEG) was started March 2009 by a group students interested in learning to grow their own food and share gardening skills and information. The V.E.G. is organized through the Cooperative Living Extension of ResLife and is designed as a cooperative for students and non-students within the Vassar Community.


The website URL where information about the organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems projects and initiatives is available:
A brief description of student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes:

Vassar Food CoOp is a student organized CSA that has a weekly on-campus pickup for milk, cheese and produce. The students manage membership, farmer outreach, and CSA-share distribution each week.

Challah for Hunger is a student run group and is a local chapter of the national organization. Student bake and sell challah every week to raise money for causes that actively promote social justice. From the the national website: "For all the volunteers and many of the customers, Challah for Hunger provides opportunities to be involved in a fun and dedicated community, address humanitarian problems, develop and practice new skills like baking and marketing, gain business and leadership experience, engage in traditions of challah and tzedakah, become involved in advocacy and other forms of activism, and more."


The website URL where information about the student-run enterprise(s) is available:
A brief description of the sustainable investment or finance initiatives:

The College Committee on Sustainability operates a Green Revolving Fund called the Resource Conservation Fund that accepts applications annually from all members of the Vassar Community. Sustainability student interns manage the application recruitment process and coach students, professors and staff in putting their energy-saving project together. Applicants must put together a graphic poster that explains the idea and articulates the cost savings and other benefits of the project. All the finished applications are displayed at the annual RCF Idea Fair where members of the community can learn about the RCF and vote for their favorite idea!

The RCF received 17 applications in 2013, 10 applications in 2012, and started in 2011 with a demonstration LED lighting project.


The website URL where information about the sustainable investment or finance initiatives is available:
A brief description of conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

In Spring 2012, renowned food system scholar and activist Vandana Shiva came to campus for a full day of events. A student committee was key in planning the day which included a tour of the Ecological Preserve & Farm, an informal discussion with students and members of the Poughkeepsie Community, a visit to our neighbor the Culinary Institute of America, and a campus wide lecture.

In Fall 2013, community revitalizationist Majora Carter came to campus for an informal discussion with students and a campus wide lecture. The Environmental Studies senior seminar organized her visit to campus, interested in her years of experience in tapping into the environmental and economic strength of underserved communities.


The website URL where information about the event(s) is available:
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A brief description of cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

As part of new-student orientation in Fall 2013, dorms competed to create upcycled sculptures utilizing the recyclable detritus of move-in day. The resulting 15+ sculptures were put on display in the College Center for the first week of classes serving as an interactive and education exhibit about waste on campus and where our waste does and doesn't go when we're done with it.

For Food Day 2013, the College Committee on Sustainability brought together the food-related student orgs on campus to organize a vegetarian potluck dinner. With a suggested donation of $3, the dinner raised more than $200 dollars for the local food pantry and was an evening highlighted by orgs sharing how students could get involved in the sustainable food movement. The dinner was followed by a screening of 'A Place at the Table' a documentary that depicts the state of food insecurity in the USA.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts event(s) is available:
A brief description of wilderness or outdoors programs for students that follow Leave No Trace principles:

Vassar College Outing Club is a student governed organization that aims to stimulate low-impact participation in and appreciation for the outdoors, while offering trained, reliable, and safe outdoor leadership, knowledge and equipment for the community without financial discrimination.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors program(s) is available:
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A brief description of sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

In the Fall of 2012 the freshman reading book was "Four Fish" by Paul Greenburg, discussing the state of our world's fisheries and how societies have been shaped over time and may continue to be impacted by these 4 species of fish. The author came to campus for a lecture directed at first-year students and met with first-year writing seminars.


The website URL where information about the theme is available:
A brief description of program(s) through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

Vassar has a number of cooperative living arrangements, formally and informally known as: Ferry Haus, Meat Haus, and Beige Buddha. Both Ferry Haus and Beige Buddha are either vegan or vegetarian (up for vote each semester by the students) and all three emphasize cooperative sustainable living by practicing composting and making and sharing group meals.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills program(s) is available:
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A brief description of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:

The College Committee on Sustainability works with the Career Development Office to organize programming and informational resources for students interest in sustainability-focused careers.

In Fall 2013 we organized a campus visit with 3 of our Alumni who work in the New York City Planning office to meet with Urban Studies Seniors and with the campus community at large to discuss sustainability in Post-Sandy NYC, graduate schools, and how careers in government and planning are green.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportuntities is available:
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A brief description of graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions:
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The website URL where information about the graduation pledge program is available:
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A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

In Spring 2012, Vassar ran the Multidisciplinary Living and Learning Community Program, that was formed as alternative JYA. A group of 12 students took 3 classes together that all focused on the sustainable food movement, lived together in a Cooperative that included caring for 6 chickens, and interned at a local organizations focusing on sustainable food issues. Through the program students lived and learned sustainability together, in and outside of the classroom.


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

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.