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By Natalie Froome
So, the results are in and you’ll be joining UEA in September. You’re in for an amazing time, and to help out we’ve compiled a handy guide to some terms and slang names that are unique to UEA.
Last month saw the annual Go Green Week take place at UEA. Tony Allen looks back on the event and we hear from Students’ Union Environment Officer Veronica White to gauge her reaction to the week.
From 13th to 17th February, UEA’s Students’ Union took part in People and Planet’s tenth national Go Green Week. The idea is that various local groups take action and spread awareness around matters to do with conservation and protecting the environment.
The SU, working with University team Sustainable UEA, put on a busy programme of events to promote sustainability at UEA and attempt to gain suggestions on how to better protect the environment on campus and further afield.
On Monday, the main event was a Vegetarian and Vegan market, where hungry students could try food that is better for the planet and their bodies. The first day of events also saw a quiz run by the Environmental Sciences Society and the first in a series of relaxing biodiversity walks around campus, led by UEA wardens.
SU Environment Officer Veronica White told The Broad: “I felt that the Vegan & Vegetarian Fair on Monday was my biggest accomplishment with regards to organisation. It was the event that stressed me the most and the one that I was most pleased to see was successful. I’m happy that students got to try various vegan and vegetarian foods and I hope it opened people’s eyes to the possibilities these diets offer.”
On Tuesday, before an evening screening of Avatar, Go Green Week took over the Hive for a second day in a row, this time for a green consultation where students and staff members could learn about what is already being done and have their say, giving the SU their views and ideas about conservation and reducing environmental impact on campus.
Veronica said: “we got some great suggestions from students with regards to making the university and Union more sustainable.
“These suggestions we’re collating into themes which we can use to lobby the university to make changes – from introducing more water fountains on campus to making better use of our beautiful environment in our learning and teaching services.”
Wednesday saw a tour of sustainable labs at UEA, before on Thursday, students who missed out earlier in the week were treated to another wave of guided nature walks around the lake, and there was a zero-waste workshop in the Hive- part of the Union’s self-professed ‘Green Action Day’.
The week was rounded off on Friday by a trip to Swaffham, and up to the panoramic viewing platform of the area’s imposing wind turbine. This gave participants the opportunity to take in the views while also learning about renewable energy in the UK.
Veronica named this as her favourite event of the week, continuing: “The event which I had the most fun at was the Panoramic Wind Turbine Tour at the Green Britain Centre. I had initially suggested we organise an event there as a bit of a joke, so it felt surreal to be climbing up the turbine with a large group of students whose interests align with mine.”
Veronica spoke of her hopes that the event would continue as a fixture at UEA in future years, adding: “I hope that it is even more successful with each coming year. I believe this year was significant because I feel like Amy [Rust, Campaigns and Democracy Officer] and I really created a relationship with Sustainable UEA and members of staff on the University side of things. I hope this relationship continues to strengthen and we as a Union can work effectively with the university to create engaging events which reach a large number of students.”
She reflected on the week as a whole, saying: “People who know me well will know that I’m glad the week is over. It was a lot of work to organise and some of the logistics got confusing in the days leading up to various events, however overall I believe it was a successful week.”
Judging by the widespread positive reactions to the latest Go Green Week, it looks set to remain a mainstay of the UEA calendar.
Image courtesy of UEA SU
by Rob Klim
The UEA campus has always been famous for its green space, environmental innovation and especially, the rabbits residing across the grounds. However, as the university’s green credentials begin to emerge as more troubling than they would appear to be, it may be that UEA are not doing enough to protect this status well enough.
We have all been prospective students here once – we were all assured of the environmental conservation policies and the amounts of money and effort put into projects such as the Biomass Centre and TEC buildings. This reassurance, however, falls short as Lewis Martin of People and Planet points out, UEA are “certainly not” keeping their word.
Martin, an activist within People and Planet – an organisation emphasising the importance of environmental sustainability and conservation – highlights the hypocrisy of the university:
“How can it claim that all the time it has £250,000 invested in fossil fuel companies, which have increasingly smaller returns, and has no money invested into greener renewable energies?”
It has also been revealed that when People and Planet sought to press the university to invest in renewable energies, the university has refused to budge. Helen Redeirmann, another activist, has emphasised further how far the university goes to avoid discussing the issue. Around six months have passed since UEA had begun to consider opening up a dialogue, and since then the investment in fossil fuels has doubled.
Martin also explains how other universities are reading much further ahead in an en masse divestment from fossil fuels companies, stating that “other universities are dropping their investments and they don’t even claim to be the “number one green university in the country”.
People and Planet’s University League – a league table ranking universities by environmental and ethical performance – has places UEA in the 48th place in the country, with a total score of 45.6%, and whilst the environmental policy is ranked at a 100%, ethical divestment and carbon reduction remain at 0%.
UEA’s investment in fossil fuels comes to nearly £300,000. All this money, could perhaps be better spent on research to help, not hinder, the environment.
To get involved, join a group of people every Wednesday in either the bar or one of the bookable rooms upstairs in Union House.
image courtesy of freestocks, at https://unsplash.com/@freestocks