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Students need to change mindsets for environment

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By: Christine Chua Sui Ling

Student apathy was repeatedly emphasized as the major impediment to environmental sustainability efforts in National University of Singapore throughout the dialogue session held by the university’s environmental group last Wednesday.

This session was aimed at enhancing students’ understanding of the sustainability strategy of NUS so they can align themselves to university’s vision of becoming the regional model of environmental sustainability.

Although NUS recognizes students’ active participation as the foremost priority, students’ apathy is limiting the success of such efforts. Chen Zhirong, acting chairperson of the environmental group, said, “Our school can have the most recycling bins but none of it will matter unless all of us believe in this cause collectively.”

“Psychological distancing” was raised as the most plausible reason behind students’ indifferent attitude by Yong Kwet Yew, Vice President of NUS Campus Infrastructure. He defined the term as a coping mechanism used to deal with a problem that is regarded as too great to solve.

Rhoda Wong Wai Kuan, a participant in the dialogue session and a third-year undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said, “If the school makes me pay for plastic bags, sure, I’ll forgo them. But when I go home after a hot day, I’ll still turn on my air-con to low temperatures. Yes, I’ll feel a little guilty but I don’t think suffering in this horrible heat is going to help much.”

Nevertheless, the environmental group had a breakthrough of approximately 400 members signing up this year. During the dialogue session, students participated actively and made many novel suggestions in the question and answer segment.

One student recommended that NUS should make utilities fees transparent to the undergraduates and translate utility savings to reduction in school fees.

According to Lina Goh Pei Lin, acting head of Office of Environmental Sustainability in NUS, such enthusiasm cannot be generalized to fit all students. There is still a group of non-believers who have no interest in environment-related talks or causes.

Goh also raised the need to create buzz as a solution to bridge this divide between environmental converts and non-converts. Successful examples to follow would include Energy Competition in NUS and Green Carnival 2009 which allowed students to have fun and learn about the environment at the same time.

Peck Thian Guan, director of Office of Safety, Health and Environment, said, “Our goal is for NUS students to graduate with a grounded sense of integrity and an understanding of the importance of being a socially responsible citizen.”

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Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

Going green in NUS

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By: Goh Kuan Hoong

Students were greeted by an eye-catching tombstone that read “Homo Sapiens, Extinction, 20XX” at the Green Carnival, a platform to raise awareness into action of environmental issues amongst the NUS community.

This year’s carnival, organized from Sept. 7 by Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE) NUS student group, left a deep impression on its attendees.

“I find the tombstones quite interesting,” Tan Kee Boon, a third year chemical engineering student, said. “They attracted me to the site.”

Goh Hongyi, project director of Green Carnival, said that the style of this year’s exhibition was more provocative and unconventional. “It was meant as a wake-up call to the visitors in the Green Carnival,” he said.

Goh added that the organisation wanted to deviate from the usual cheerful and bright environmental exhibitions that tend to conceal the urgency and seriousness of the current climate situation.

“The displays are very informative,” Tan, said. “We really have to treat our environment better or we might become extinct as well.”

While the first section of the exhibition dedicated information of the local environmental issues, the later section featured simple solutions and practices that would help alleviate the seriousness of the current environmental situation.

Project director Goh said that the special layouts of the exhibition are to make the NUS community take ownership of the environment on campus and to engender a sense of environmental consciousness and activism in NUS.

Lim Chi Ching, an honours student from the science faculty, finds the exhibitions unique. “It gives some useful tips on how to conserve our environment,” Lim said. “The nice layouts, especially the bedroom, made it easy to absorb these information.”

As the ultimate goal of the Green Carnival is to mobilize the NUS community, the movement implemented a booth devoted to facilitate “NUS votes earth”, a voting system campaigning to implement four initiatives in NUS.

“NUS votes earth”, which began on Aug. 1, allows students to choose any of the four initiatives put forth by the organization. “We hope to involve the students by putting them to the vote,” Goh said.

According to Goh, these four initiatives include phasing out of plastic bags, double sided printing for all documents, setting all lecture theatres to 25 °C and going meat-free on Thursdays.

The organization has garnered a total of 10,000 votes, surpassing its initial target of 5,000 votes.  Both the event and the voting ended on Sept. 8.

“The administration will take into account the result of the votes as to whether to implement all initiatives,” Goh said.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:28 am

Posted in Environment

NUS students vote for the earth

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By: Nguyen Ha Huyen Van

The Green Carnival 2009 was held on Sept. 7, 2009 at the Central Forum Facade at the National University of Singapore and was graced by guests-of-honour Dr. Amy Khor and Andrew Tan.

“The Green Carnival has become a major catalyst and platform which brings together many dedicated individuals, both staff and students, and many organizations to work together towards environmentally important goals,” said NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan in his opening speech.

This event is the annual flagship event of the NUS Students’ Union Students Against Violation of the Earth (NUSSU SAVE).

Vice Chairperson of SAVE, Chen Zhirong, said that this year’s theme “NUS fights climate change, what about you?” made individuals think about what they can do to protect their environment.

Several posters were displayed at the Forum, promoting the event’s five environmental initiatives, “Zer0waste”, “1 Degree Up”, “Rebate2Earth”, “Save3s” and “Food4Thought”.

Vo Van Nhat Han, a fourth-year student in the division of Environmental Science and Engineering, said that the event was “informative, well-done, quite creative, the exhibition really gave an ordinary student an overall picture of climate change effects.”

Chairperson of SAVE Ong Jie Wei said that a considerable amount is budgeted for banners as they are expected to generate much publicity.

The locations of banners are not only at the Central Forum Facade but also at the School of Computing, the link way of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and all canteens on campus.

Ong also said that it took four or five months to generate enough sponsors for the project.

“In total, we estimate that our project encounters around more than S$29000 in deficit” he said.

They had to seek sponsors from companies such as Nokia, City Developments Limited and  Senoko Power.

In her speech during the opening launch, Dr Amy Khor thanked all the sponsors for their generosity in supporting the meaningful event.

Vo also joined NUS Votes for the Earth, a month-long campaign that propagated the idea of fighting climate change.

Prof Tan Chorh Chuan announced that “NUS Votes for Earth” had met their target of 5000 votes for each of the initiatives by SAVE.

“At a personal level, I too am trying to do my part to be an active participant in this drive,” Professor Tan said.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:27 am

Posted in Environment