By: Molly O’Donnell
While there are many green student organizations doing important work on campus, no one is better positioned than the cabinet-level Secretary for Sustainability and Infrastructure to push student-led sustainability initiatives specific to Miami’s campus. Alex Wortman, a senior finance major, is currently serving in this role. I sat down to talk with him about his time in ASG and his plans for this year.
How did you get involved with ASG?
I got involved with ASG my sophomore year when I was an on-campus senator for some of the Western dorms. I wanted to see changes with some of the infrastructure projects the university was undertaking as well as some of the green projects.
What issues pertaining to infrastructure and sustainability do you see right now on campus?
I see an accessibility problem for some of the students that have disabilities. Other than that, I think Miami can do much better incorporating green infrastructure into its long-term planning because it kills two birds with one stone. It helps with sustainability and things like storm water management and gives the university another advertising tool: saying we’re greener. There are also problems with people not understanding what it means to live sustainably or how easy it is to implement in their everyday lives.
What initiatives are you currently working on or plan to work on this year?
I have been working with the Sean Perme, Secretary for Off-Campus Affairs. We are in the talks with [ASG] senators, community members, and people within the administration about getting bike-sharing on campus. We are talking with Veoride, which is a stationless bike share model startup based out of Purdue, about getting a trial run in the spring semester. The trial run would give 60 or 70 bikes to the campus and community.
I’m also trying to develop an easier way for all green student organizations to know what each other is doing and break down those information silos. I want to be able to possibly host an Earth Week or Green Week with different events throughout the weeks co-sponsored by different organizations and bringing to discussion how students can change their lives to help the world be more sustainable.
What challenges have you encountered trying to carry out those initiatives?
Trying to break down information silos is difficult in itself. When you talk to different organizations about what they are doing, they are doing very similar things, so we are just trying to create that cross organization communication. But also with the bike-sharing, student government has been trying to work with the university for the last three years, but there are liability concerns. If this partnership with Veoride is successful, there will be no liability on the university, which would check their boxes. It’s just getting in talks with administrators and asking, is it alright if these bikes are on campus?
What is your number one tip for students looking to live more sustainably?
Know what is recyclable. Go on Rumpke.com and see what can be recycled. Some things you think are recyclable are not, and some things you think are not are.
Despite the challenges he has faced thus far, it is exciting that Wortman remains committed to his ideas for improving Miami’s infrastructure and making Miami more sustainable. If you have any concerns or have ideas for sustainability initiatives on campus, let your voice be heard by contacting your student senator.