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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 58.11
Liaison Jennifer Kleindienst
Submission Date Dec. 1, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Wesleyan University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Jennifer Kleindienst
Sustainability Coordinator
Finance and Administration
"---" 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:

WILD Wes (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design at Wesleyan) aims to develop an alternative to the water-, chemical fertilizer-, and pesticide-intensive conventional lawn cover that dominates university campuses and much of the United States. The group strives towards landscapes that reflect a commitment to economic, social, and ecological sustainability. This commitment is embodied primarily in the practice of permaculture: a design philosophy and system that looks the structures and relationships found in nature as models for creating diverse, stable, productive systems. WILD Wes' landscape design systems use no non-renewable fuels, integrate a variety of native plant species and environments, and work to be virtually self-sustaining.

Middletown Urban Gardens is a coalition of students working with the North End Action Team (a local non-profit) to establish new community gardens and promote healthy eating in low-income areas Middletown. MUG leads the design process and provides the necessary materials for new gardens, but empowers Middletown residents to be the primary stewards and users of the land.

WesCFPA (Wesleyan Connecticut Forest & Park Association) maintains trails across Connecticut (members are specifically responsible for a handicap-accessible trail nearby) and promotes environmental conservation. The group manages events, which include film screenings, expositions and lectures, and collaborates with other groups on campus. WesCFPA reaches out to the community through hikes with the mentors from NEAT (North End Action Team, an outreach organization) and elementary students. Working closely with the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, WesCFPA volunteers create strong and lasting community partnerships through hands-on experiences.

Climate Ambassadors aims to engage the Wesleyan community in activism, education, and discussion around climate justice.


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?:
Yes

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

Long Lane Organic Farm is a cooperatively run small farm that uses ecological farming practices to produce food for the Wesleyan University Campus as well as the broader Middletown community. In addition to serving an important nutritional role in the local area, Long Lane is committed to providing the community with opportunities for festive gatherings and open exchanges, farm and food education, and hopes to contribute collaboratively to thought and practice at the nexus of culture and agriculture in general. Long Lane is in its first year of operating a 30'x48' unheated greenhouse, where greens can be grown in the winter months, and tomatoes, peppers, squashes and eggplants can flourish in the summer. The fall planting was highly successful, and yielded some good lessons. Long Lane follows a full consensus structure for its decisions and welcomes all members. Long Lane holds a yearly pumpkin festival each fall in conjunction with the College of the Environment.

Local Co-op provides an affordable option for students to purchase local and sustainable food. At the start of each semester, students can choose to get shares of produce, meat, bread, eggs, dairy, preserved foods, and tofu/seitan. Participating students pick up shares weekly and help once each semester with organization and distribution. Over 700 students, faculty, and staff participate each semester, with a purchasing value of approximately $250,000.


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:

Espwesso is a student run cafe with sustainability embedded in its mission: inspiring a shift in coffee consumption towards more sustainable (and tastier) coffees. Espwesso serves direct-source coffees and teas, which allows coffee roasters to work with growers to ensure that equitable practices are used in terms of both sustainability and taste. All Espwesso labor is work-study. Espwesso is entirely financially sustainable, operating exclusively on student "donations" to cover costs. Any surplus revenue is invested in expanded offerings, lowering costs, or investments that increase our means of production. While revenue is not sufficient to cover the cost of recycled napkins, cups, or other eco-friendly paper products, Espwesso encourages all customers to bring their own mugs by implementing a one-point requested donation on paper cups for drip coffee. Espwesso over the past couple of years has further expanded into a space of social sustainability, where we are constantly engaged in the cafe as a site of organization for a multiplicity of student groups on campus. We provide our employees with adequate training in the coffee industry beyond Wesleyan, as well as providing students with opportunities to engage in managing small business models that are applicable to the working world. We have recently been working with the larger Wesleyan community to provide individuals with basic coffee trainings that might aid them in finding jobs in the service industry beyond the university.


The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
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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:

The Wesleyan Green Fund is a student organized, student endowed, and student run fund created for the purpose of providing capital to a variety of environmental projects that would not otherwise receive support, either from the administration or from the larger student activities fund administered by the Wesleyan Student Assembly. Each semester, each student's tuition bill includes a $15 opt-out fee for the purposes of capitalizing the fund. The Green Fund accepts student, faculty, and staff proposals each semester. Projects are chosen for funding based on their ability to increase the University’s use of renewable energy sources, decrease the University’s carbon footprint, and decrease waste. Special consideration is given to projects that explore intersectionality with the aim of “redefining” environmentalism. The Fund’s members work with project applicants to tailor projects and provide financial and managerial support. The Fund exists to spur creativity, innovation, and collaboration within the Wesleyan student body, faculty, and staff, to empower green initiatives on campus. The Green Fund launched in 2010 and was renewed by the Wesleyan Board of Trustees for another five-year term in 2015.


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:

Each year, the College of the Environment hosts a number of symposia and annual events. These events are free and open to the public and bring together diverse audiences to learn about, debate, and discuss the most pressing environmental issues of our day.

The Schumann Lecture Series brings to campus a number of outstanding experts to speak on a variety of contemporary environmental issues of great importance. Since 2004, the College of the Environment has hosted an annual "Where on Earth Are We Going" symposium. Each year focuses upon a critical environmental topic and has brought to Wesleyan the people who are at the forefronts of these issues.

Pumpkin Fest, co-hosted by the College of the Environment and Long Lane Farm, provides an opportunity for learning about farming and a chance to enjoy an afternoon on the Farm with organic produce, face and pumpkin painting, and music by local bands. The Pumpkin Festival, held each year since 2004, is preceded by a keynote address.

Since 2004, Wesleyan has celebrated Earth Day with a variety of events. Since 2013, Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff have hosted a full month of activities and events exploring the environment, intersectionality, and community connections. The Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter Festival, held in early May since 2015, has brought thousands of community members to the Middletown Riverfront to celebrate arts, the environment, and the beautiful Connecticut River.


The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
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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:

Wesleyan’s campus has continued to undertake the Feet to the Fire program, which examines environmental topics through the arts to provide a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of those issues.

A new addition to the program is Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter, which has taken place in May 2015 and 2016. This eco-arts festival, organized by Wesleyan and produced in conjunction with over a dozen local organizations and businesses, is designed to bring the community closer to the rich culture, history and science of the Connecticut River. Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter focuses on bringing sustainability studies and practices to a localized level with a special emphasis on highlighting the Connecticut River, which runs through Middletown. Each year a course has been developed within the College of the Environment to accompany the Riverfront Encounter. Students in this course produce art performances or exhibitions focused on this theme that become part of the festival.

Wesleyan’s orientation program has evolved to focus on a common reading, which is a book assigned to all incoming freshman and becomes the focus of all orientation programming. First-year students engage in multidisciplinary discussions about the Feet to the Fire theme and participate in a Common Moment in which the arts are used to catalyze and embody our understanding of the theme.


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 Wesleyan Outing Club offers a wide range of trips most weekends such as biking, hiking, canoeing, and rock climbing, and longer trips over breaks. Past trips have included winter camping in the White Mountains, biking and a Polar Bear Plunge at nearby Miller’s Pond, a sunrise hike up Mt. Higby, and hiking through New England forests near and far. The Outing Club rents out a supply of outdoor gear to students, including sleeping bags, tents, stoves, canoes, kayaks, and cross country skis. The Outing Club successfully applied for a Green Fund grant in 2015 to expand access to gear and outdoor experiences to students from low-income backgrounds.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):
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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:

From 2008-2012, the orientation program had an environmental theme. From 2013-2015, the orientation program alternated between themes focused on equity/inclusion and environmental issues. Fall 2016 Orientation will focus on a common reading, The New Jim Crow.

Each year, the College of the Environment gathers a group of Wesleyan faculty, scholars of prominence from outside Wesleyan, and undergraduate students into a year-long academic think tank on a critical environmental issue. The aim of the think tank is not only to generate a deeper understanding of the thematic issue, but also to produce scholarly works that will influence national and international thinking and action on the issue. The think tank serves as a focal point for the global intellectual community concerned with the environment. Scholars and students in the think tank are expected to produce scholarly works by the end of the academic year.


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:

Wesleyan has several environmentally-themed houses: Earth House, Farm House, and Out House, as well as a first-year hall, Green Hall. The Sustainability Office holds several workshops each year to Residential Life student staff from all residences to educate them on sustainable life skills.


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

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

The Wesleyan Sustainability Office offers several paid part-time internships each year. In the 2015-16 school year, there were five positions focused on composting, two positions focused on communications, four coordinator and 30 positions focused on the Eco Facilitators program (peer-to-peer residential program aimed at fostering sustainable lifestyle habits) and two positions focused on energy conservation, the annual Waste Not Tag Sale, and other sustainability issues.

The College of the Environment offers several paid full-time internships each year. College of the Environment internships are for students to do research under the guidance of a faculty or staff mentor during the summer or fall on projects directly concerned with Environmental Studies. These internships are available to students and faculty across the entire University. The internship awards $4000 to a successful applicant. Summer internship can be awarded to students doing research off campus and outside the Middletown area as long as there is a well-developed plan for faculty/staff mentorship.

Bon Appetit Management Company, the College of the Environment, and student-run Green Fund jointly fund paid internships each summer at Long Lane Farm. Students are responsible for growing produce, keeping records, managing Farmers' Market sales, and other farm-related duties. During the school year, the farm produce is primarily served in Wesleyan dining halls.


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