Tufts Eco-Reps to host annual symposium this weekend

Eco-Reps from a number of Northeast universities will gather at the Aidekman Arts Center this weekend for the fifth annual Eco-Rep Symposium.

The event, which will be hosted by the Tufts Eco-Reps, brings together students interested in campus sustainability to exchange ideas and talk about related programs at their schools, according to Victoria Manogue, communications intern at the Office of Sustainability (OOS).

“It’s set up so that [students] can learn from each other,” OOS Program Director Tina Woolston said.

According to Woolston,  176 students will represent 32 different universities at this year’s symposium.

Manogue, a senior, explained that the symposium will feature some speakers but will be mostly student-led. There will be panels on topics such as composting as well as successful campus sustainability competitions and incentives.

“The idea behind the symposium is that it is held by students, for students,” Woolston said.

Manogue added that students will break into small groups of eight to 10 people and have round-table discussions on a given sustainability topic. Students will be able to talk about the practicality and logistics of different sustainability programs that have and have not been successful at their respective schools.

Eco-Rep Co-Coordinators Arshiya Goel and Hayley Ernyey explained that Tufts Eco-Reps have been split into six groups to help organize the event. Each group is responsible for a different hosting role, such as housing, food and organizing the sessions that at which student participants apply to speak.

The first Eco-Rep Symposium was hosted at Tufts in 2009. Since then, other schools have hosted it including Babson College in 2011, Brown University in 2012 and Boston University in 2013, according to Manogue. 

Goel, a senior, attended the symposia at Brown University and Boston University. 

“When you meet other people from other schools who are also trying to do the same thing and they see how cool your program is, you see that Tufts is doing something different and it is great,” she said.

Ernyey, also a senior, attended the symposium at Brown University. 

“You see how progressive Tufts is in sustainability and how much more it has to go,” she said.

Woolston explained that she has received positive feedback on the Eco-Rep Symposium in the past.

“From what I’ve been told from participants in the past, [the Eco-Rep Symposium] is really inspiring,” she said. “Also, the Tufts Eco-Reps gain a greater sense of pride for their own program because their program is a really good model. All of these eco-programs have been modeled after Tufts’ original idea.”

The symposium is an affordable opportunity for students to learn about campus sustainability programs, according to Woolston. Tickets cost $15 and housing is provided by Tufts students for those who come from schools further away.

“It is super low-cost, which makes it really accessible,” she said.

Woolston noted that she has been working with a regional group of campus sustainability professionals and they have created a board of curators, consisting of staff members from different schools around the northeast, to talk about the future of the symposium.

“I hope students gain an inspired passion for the environment and the work that they are doing,” Ernyey said. “I hope that they gain an understanding that what they are doing is important.”

Goel agreed, adding that she hopes the symposium will be a valuable learning experience.

“I hope that students can learn from all the other groups and see what they are doing differently,” she said.