The Strand chatted with Jared Connoy, candidate for Sustainability Commissioner in the 2017 VUSAC fall election, to ask about his platform and goals if elected.
The Strand: Why are you running for VUSAC Sustainability Commissioner?
Jared Connoy: I’m running for Sustainability Commissioner because I’ve dedicated my education to the environment. I’m doing a double major in Economics and Environmental Science, with a minor in Environmental Studies. I’ve done work abroad doing scientific research and data collection, and I dedicate all my free time to the environment. It’s my passion and I love the Vic community, so I’d like to bring the two together.
Can you elaborate on the environmental work you’ve done on campus and abroad?
Abroad, I was doing data collection and population tracking for an organization that does environmental work called Osa Conservation, based in the Costa Rican rainforest. On campus, last year I was the Lower Year Representative for the Environmental Students’ Union, and I’m now the Treasurer. I’ve also been involved with UTEA, which is the University of Toronto Environmental Action.
Working abroad was definitely incredibly important for me in making a physical connection with the environment. I’ve highlighted throughout my campaign the importance of having a genuine relationship with the environment so people can really feel that and take it into their lives, career, and discipline—whatever it may be. However, my involvement on campus has been very valuable in terms of what I’d be doing as Sustainability Commissioner because I’ve had a lot of experience planning sustainability events.
What’s the first initiative you would run at Vic if elected as Sustainability Commissioner?
The first initiative I would run is definitely something that would be very engaging for students, which would be a greenhouse tour. I’ve planned greenhouse tours in the past for the Environmental Students’ Union and, honestly, they’re just a lot of fun. You get to be very engaged—the greenhouse has things like iguanas, lizards, and fish— I think that’s really important as a first event to engage students with the environment so that they’ll then keep returning to environmental events from VUSAC that can be more on the educational side.
What do you think needs to change about Vic’s sustainability efforts, and how do you plan on implementing your ideas?
The first thing that really bothers me with sustainability at Vic is the food waste in Burwash. Anyone who’s eaten in Burwash sees how much food is wasted. Even last night at Town Hall, there was tons of food left over, so really monitoring that and making sure that so much food isn’t wasted is definitely one of my first priorities.
Other priorities would be general sustainability in residence, things like composting or microfibre bags for laundry. I think working with Burwash would be the best way to work around food waste, because at the end of the day the people working there might know what works and what doesn’t. As well, talking to students, having food samples before filling up a plate, and working with people that have knowledge on what could work and what couldn’t.
Your platform includes “instilling a sense of environmental stewardship” in Vic students. What steps would you take to achieve this goal?
I want to engage students with the environment hands-on, so not just through maybe academic seminars or Doc N’ Talks, but really getting them involved with the garden. If they could plant something at the beginning of the year and watch it grow throughout the year, that would be very engaging for them. Things like greenhouse tours to engage with the green spaces around them so they can create that relationship with the environment.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photo | Courtesy of the candidate