Letter to the Editor
I would like to thank the Free Press for spotlighting some of office for sustainability’s work in “New School Green Rating Leaves Room for Improvement” (November 22). While I agree with the author’s portrayal of the College Sustainability Report Card as an imperfect ranking system, I think it is critical to point out a few key points the article fell short of making.
The New School’s “poor financial policies” did not prevent the College Sustainability Report Card from granting us a higher grade. In fact, the office of finance and business is very supportive of sustainability projects and policies here on campus. It is the university’s investment policies that were under scrutiny. And the newly formed advisory committee on investor responsibility (ACIR) — comprised of students, staff and faculty — was established to evaluate our investment practices and encourage endowment transparency. But I would argue that in prioritizing our sustainability goals in the short term, the need for reducing the campus’s direct greenhouse gas emissions far outweighs an immediate necessity to improve our socially responsible investment practices.
The article also cites a ReNew School member discussing the poor rating received in the “Student Involvement” category in previous years. What the author fails to mention is that The New School received an “A” in the category this year, which illuminates the great work of student groups like ReNew School and Urban Forestry Club.
The author closes the article with a sense of frustration about the inadequacy of the report card. But I would prefer to convey a more productive closing sentiment: The office for sustainability is working to improve many of these “green” evaluating organizations. In July, The New School signed with 23 other higher education institutions an open letter that was delivered to the College Sustainability Report Card, the Green School List as well as the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education. This letter challenges these “green” rankings to be fully transparent and accountable, disclose their credentials and to avoid misleading comparisons between universities. By participating in these rating systems, I believe we can make them better — and utilize them to improve our sustainability practices.
I am encouraged by the editorial staff’s choice to address this topic and advocate for regular coverage of sustainability issues on campus.
Assistant Director for Sustainability & Energy Management