Student Federation approved the Conservation Club’s $160 funding request for a new initiative to begin recycling in residence halls by the end of this month during its Oct. 8 meeting.
The initiative — to recycle haircare, skincare, and beauty supplies — divided representatives over whether it was wasteful spending, given the hygienic and recycling habits of men as opposed to women.
Some representatives wondered why American Chemical Society or Beta Beta Beta, the biology honorary, are not in charge of the initiative and why Conservation Club limits their scope to dorms. They considered such division of labor inefficient. Conservation Club members, however, did not agree.
“It’s part of the mission of every club and organization: ACS, as a chemical society, would want to recycle plastic bottles, like polymers, and Tri-Beta, the biological honorary, would want to recycle paper and cardboard, and at the same time, Conservation Club, conserving the environment,” said junior Bilyana Petkova, vice president of the Conservation Club. “I think it’s a lot of work. With ACS it takes all of the volunteers to pick up the trash every week, and I can’t imagine Conservation Club, with just 20 to 30 members, picking up trash in every dorm, all around campus, and at the Tri-Beta stations. With distribution, I think we’re being more efficient.”
At first, the Financial Committee recommended no funding for the Conservation Club.
“We felt that it was not likely to be used in general by a large percentage of students, especially for guys in Simpson or in Galloway, who have two trash cans in their rooms,” said junior representative Ryan Jelalian, a member of the Financial Committee. “We also felt that there are other organizations that do similar recycling initiatives who could reach and provide support and take on the burden financially.”
For Kappa Kappa Gamma representative junior Elise Clines, the discussion was a sign of micromanagement on the part of Student Fed.
“It seems to me that we have started to almost micromanage clubs, saying that we know best for every little detail,” Clines said. “Why don’t we give them a little bit of freedom?”
Petkova and sophomore Andrea Lee, club treasurer, petitioned for $164.08 on behalf of the club for sturdy, gray storage bins and trash bags for all 19 dorms and Greek houses.
“The long-term goal is that the college will actually realize that we need a college-organized recycling program,” Petkova said. “All recycling done on campus is done by students. So the college and the cleaning staff don’t help us with recycling. We have to provide everything ourselves.”
As of right now, the scope of the club’s project is collecting only hygienic product waste. ACS recently placed new recycling bins for plastics and aluminum in many of the academic buildings. The biology honorary has nine cardboard and paper recycling stations up the hill.
Volunteer members of the Conservation Club are responsible for collecting, sorting, and transporting the recyclables to the plant.
Some representatives articulated concerns regarding success rates in male dorms, claiming that the project would not be successful in the men’s residence halls because men tend to use fewer products than women. Others attributed potential failures to bathroom location: Galloway’s community bathrooms would facilitate recycling while Simpson’s suite-style bathrooms would not as residents would have to walk down the hall to dispose of their recyclables.
The Conservation Club, however, already has experimented with recycling in male dorms with positive results.
“We did it at the end of the semester, just a box in the lounge, and we got a lot of guys bringing in stuff,” Petkova said.
Senior Samuel Holdeman, independent representative and member of the Financial Committee, suggested a compromise: to begin in the women’s dorms and move to men’s dorms if the initiative proved successful.
“I think that just creates a double standard: Women somehow are expected to recycle certain things and men, because of their nature, don’t need to,” sophomore representative Christian Wiese said.
The concern of a double standard went hand-in-hand with the classification of these recyclable items as beauty supplies or products, a label that does not suggest shaving cream or deodorant, and would further undercut the success of the initiative among male dorms.
“I think that as long as the boxes aren’t labeled beauty supplies and put in a prominent spot, there would be moderate success,” sophomore representative Christopher Pudenz said.
Despite the lack of recycling efforts on behalf of the college, independent representative sophomore Jonathan Moy said he felt the new initiative lines up with the aims of Hillsdale College.
“We should support the college in its mission of calling its students towards the active cultivation of intellectual and moral excellence and humility before our Creator,” Moy said. “I think this is one way we can promote the idea of conservation among students and understand the importance of using our resources wisely.”
Independent representative sophomore Christie Mittlestaedt agreed: “I think getting recycling in the dorms is inevitable. The world is a changing place and recycling is big nowadays, and it’s coming to Hillsdale.”