By: Sam Jerow
One of the cabinet-level positions in Miami University’s Associated Student Government, and a position that is important to us here at GreenHawks Media, is the Secretary for Infrastructure and Sustainability. This year, Junior Ryan Snyder has the honor of taking on the role. We got the chance to sit down and speak with him about himself, his role in ASG, as well as ongoing initiatives and challenges here at Miami.
Snyder studies Biology as his major with co-majors in Neuroscience and Pre-Medical Studies; to top it all off he has a minor in Japanese. His language and cultural interests in Japan developed during his childhood, most of which was spent in Japan. Ryan has always loved the outdoors and holds the belief that all people on earth share the responsibility to protect the environment for the benefit of ourselves and all of the generations that will follow.
As Ryan explained to us, the responsibilities of the Secretary for Infrastructure and Sustainability include “sitting on committees such as Campus Planning Committee and University Sustainability Committee, serving as a member of the University Senate, taking legislation passed in Senate to administrators and seeing it through to fruition, and leading the Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee.” So what has he been up to this year? Let’s take a look.
If you recall, we wrote a piece last year about a bike sharing program at Miami. Our discussion with Ryan confirms that the program is “progressing well” and we should see a pilot program beginning next fall. This program, if successful, would culminate in a full-fledged bike sharing program across campus. A successful program would give students the option of biking to class and around campus, which could decrease the amount of students that drive, take taxis, or rely on public transportation, all resulting in a smaller carbon footprint for Miami. (Read more about the bike sharing program here.)
In addition to the bike program, Ryan has taken on several other important projects. One of them is a student-run composting project. Although it is in its early stages, a successful test program next semester is in the works. The aim of the program is to bring composting back to Miami.
One issue that Ryan has seen across Miami is inconsistency in recycling; Ryan has noticed that “many campus locations do not recycle at all and others only minimally recycle.” This led him and his committee to take up tracking recycling around campus and to introduce efforts to expand the existing recycling program.
“As a person stuck living on this Earth, I believe it is my responsibility to do everything I can to preserve the same environment in which my children will live. Being a person who loves the outdoors only strengthens this conviction. This is why myself and my committee have committed to tracking the current recycling on campus and then growing the recycling program.”
The last two initiatives that Ryan and I discussed are the Green Room Initiative and reusable-ware in campus dining programs. The former is a ranking program that will give students “different levels of certification depending on the sustainability of their lifestyle,” which would incentivize green living for students that live on campus. GreenHawks will be partnering with the Green Room Initiative, so stay tuned for more information about this program next semester. The reusable-ware concept was an idea brought to Ryan by students and would allow for reusable bags and to-go containers at on-campus dining and market locations. While this is an idea still in the works, it highlights the need for students that aren’t in ASG to bring ideas to their senators or run for a position of their own!
In more broad strokes about Miami’s sustainability, Ryan has been pleased with the addition of several sustainable features to the campus. These include, but are not limited to, the expanded geothermal plant on Western campus, increased commitment to biking culture on campus, low-flow toilets in academic and residential buildings, and energy efficient appliances, but he still sees room for improvement. As previously mentioned, he feels that one of the largest problems for Miami is the gaps in the recycling program. Additionally, Ryan feels that the number of drivers and lack of sustainable parking will continue to be a problem for our campus.
Despite frustrations that we face, it is always refreshing to discuss these problems with someone who is so dedicated to solving them. Being a part of the conversation is a crucial factor to seeing solutions implemented, so let your voice be heard! Discuss sustainability issues with your friends, professors, ASG representatives and ensure that forward progress is being made. Thanks, Ryan for the great conversation and good luck on achieving these goals!