Response to “Going Green”

Submitted By Elizabeth Kelly, MLA graduate student

Dear Editor,
    This is a response to the article published August 24, 2015 Volume 109, Issue 1 titled “Going Green” by James Leigh. As a new graduate student at Henderson I find the issue of sagging pants to be perplexing. Equally important to the sagging pants issue is the campus’ going green initiative.  Your article claims the school has saved $237,551, but fails to address the initial amount spent in phase one. James Leigh claims that the changes will save the school money but where is the evidence for your claim? The problem with this article is that it illustrates the lack of transparency of HSU’s spending priorities. If students are paying tuition to be here, they deserve to know exactly how the school is spending money to facilitate the promise made in HSU’s mission statement.
After talking to Bobby Jones he explained new information that sheds light on Leigh’s article. The first phase of the Energies Saving Companies’ (ESCCO) project cost the HSU $2.6 million, with an estimated savings of $237,531 annually. The second phase is going to cost $9.6 million with and estimated savings of $518,714 annually. When asked about whether HSU considered other more cost effective methods of managing the temperature of buildings on campus Jones answered that this was a “top of the line” system. After years of faculty complaining about how hot their classrooms are, even going so far as to hold classes outside, Jones explained that it is important to improve the cooling options on campus. The problem is, this update is $11 million,  while estimated savings for the school over 20 years is only $9 million. Perhaps it is necessary, but it certainly is not saving the school money. There seems to have been no consideration for cheaper, less “green” alternatives. Leigh should not attempt to deceive the student body by failing to include important information.
Over all HSU has a lot going on this year with an emphasis on developing the campus according to their strategic plan.  The Universities’ top priority is to increase student retention. Students will be retained if they are getting an education, not if the campus looks pretty and their classrooms are the perfect temperature. Henderson wants to attract quality students. The way to do that is by improving and facilitating the education in the classroom rather than building a façade.  
The new housing is in contradiction with the premise of sustainability. It is also more expensive. Will most students from Arkansas be able to afford the new housing rates? While the campus might be pretty, the price tag could be unattractive to potential students. Why build more housing for students when the student body remains roughly the same? The amount of meal plans purchased this year, is actually less than last year. indicating that fewer students live on campus. Instead of “If you build it, they will come” why not focus on building up the skills of the students on campus? The paying customers who are already here.
Jones explains the intent is to accommodate students’ demands to have more private quarters in contrast to the “gang –style” community showers in Smith. That is all well and good. If the school needs and can afford a state of the art new cooling systems and new housing, then so be it. But don’t post an article claiming that the school is saving money from endeavors that are obviously very expensive. Students don’t need luxury to learn. Even a liberal arts college needs classrooms that facilitate learning and aid in the assimilation of data in a rapidly developing technological world.
Elizabeth Kelly