Student Government passes composting resolution, calls for college accountability 

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Kaitlyn Hilley ’23, a representative on Student Government’s Sustainability Committee, has been at the forefront of Lafayette’s sustainability initiatives. (Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Hilley ’23)

Last Thursday, Student Government passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a composting program at Lafayette by fall 2023. This is one of the many steps toward the realization of the college’s Climate Action Plan 2.0, which aims for sustainability and carbon neutrality by 2035, as food waste is one of the college’s primary sources of emission.

The resolution was approved by a vote of 25 yeas, zero nays and two abstentions in Student Government’s general body meeting the week of Nov. 27. The resolution states that “Lafayette College is behind on its own goals outlined by the Climate Action plan 2.0,” according to which a composting program was supposed to be integrated in 2019-2020, putting the institution on track for a “diversion rate of 40 percent by 2024.” A diversion rate measures how much waste goes somewhere other than a landfill.

Kaitlyn Hilley ’23, who wrote the resolution and serves on Student Government’s Sustainability Committee, said that past composting initiatives have never come to fruition due to COVID-19 and miscommunication. She has been able to transform past efforts into an independent study to develop an official plan.  

“The past three years I’ve been spearheading this initiative trying to originally expand on what we had with composting,” Hilley said.

Hilley explained how early efforts were outlined through a civil engineering capstone. Using this project as a catalyst, she began pushing for a feasible route to track the implementation of composting. Alongside professor of civil and environmental engineering Arthur Kney, who advised the initial capstone, Hilley has guided the resolution through many iterations, navigating communication and coordination between members of the Easton community as well as Lafayette alumni.  

Funding has been a setback for the program, yet continued student support for the plan and efforts from Student Government can assure financial commitments accepted by the Board of Trustees and college are fulfilled. 

“There are ways for student voices to be heard … going to sustainability community meetings. There’s a survey out that closes on December 12th that also has to do with prioritizing composting,” director of the Sustainability Committee for Student Government Remy Oktay ’24 said.

“Kaitlyn really made this happen … She made this first step,” he said.

Oktay said that students and faculty can begin the implementation of this plan by educating themselves prior to its installment.

 “The best thing people can do now is learning what can and cannot be composted to ensure when the bins are set up in the fall, they know exactly what goes where, and it becomes part of the culture here,” Oktay said. 

This resolution is a visible pledge to uphold community values and creates a method for holding the college responsible for executing its plan. 

“This is an issue that takes a lot of time and energy and that’s often been the downfall … This will not happen without a massive amount of student support,” Hilley said. “If this is something students really value and is a core value of Lafayette College, then we need to put that forward now.”