By Nathaniel Carampatana | November 10, 2023
Silliman University’s (SU) call for a complete movement toward environmental sustainability will turn out useless in the long run if it fails to address recurring internal problems such as discipline and accountability, among many others.
While the university made significant progress, such as the declaration of climate emergency, its image, credibility, and authority to make calls that impact the masses may be subjected to scrutiny if it continues to delay in addressing what’s obviously been the root cause of failed implementations: negligence.
On Nov. 19, 2018, almost five years ago, SU adopted a new environmental policy under the newly installed administration of SU President Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann.
The environmental policy stated that SU commits to pursuing general policies on waste prevention and waste management, including zero waste management; green procurement policies; policies related to food and food waste; waste policies related to events and festivals; and policies related to the greening of the campus.
In the said environmental policy, using single-use plastic was consistently disallowed within the campus, indicating that the university is firmly committed to internally phasing out single-use plastics once and for all.
This move garnered mixed reactions among constituents and outsiders. Some applauded the move and called it a bold and noble act. Others questioned its implementation and sustainability. All these sentiments are valid given that every situation has to be considered both ways: potential and reality.
During last academic year’s intramurals, the inevitable came. Predictions on how the said portion of the environmental policy would stand the test of time resulted in the worst possible case: a single-use plastic outbreak.
Dissecting the matter, what really caused such a problem at that time was never to be directed at a single side. It was a lapse on both the administration and students. Because the environmental policy has been there since 2018, it was sure to be forgotten and left to rot until a new project, perhaps of the SU admin or the Silliman University Student Government Environmental Committee, mentions it.
This case negates the purpose of the policy. It was implemented in the first place to hopefully set SU in the right direction when it comes to nurturing our environment—our planet.
But when the university higher-ups and teachers fail to instill among their students the importance of such policy and when students also fail to do their part of educating themselves on the ins and outs of the university, nothing can be done.
Someday, however, as the dawn of information and technology engulfs us, we can only hope that there will be no barriers to understanding how crucial such an environmental policy is for the university, the students, and the world as a whole.
Today, single-use plastic freely goes in and out of the campus, leaving us to question, “What went wrong? What went wrong that such a good deed was unintentionally converted into a headache, a heavy task for us to fulfill?”
And when we ask both sides of the coin who is to be blamed, left and right, fingers start pointing.