The University’s EcoReps program is operated through Residential Life and is focused on improving sustainability in River Campus residential halls. The program gives students the skills and knowledge to promote environmentally responsible behavior among their peers. EcoReps includes a program for first-year students and a program for upperclassmen known as the UpperClass EcoReps. The University’s UpperClass EcoReps was established in 2017 by Patricia Hanna (Class of 2019). The newly revamped UpperClass EcoReps course now includes a mentorship program for first-year EcoReps and a newsletter for students living in upperclassmen housing.
First-year EcoReps take a two-credit seminar and work with their halls to promote sustainability by creating educational “EcoBoards” and hosting hall programs. Unlike the first-year EcoReps, UpperClass EcoRep are volunteers and do not receive any payment or class credit for their projects. UpperClass EcoReps director Rosemary Aviste (Class of 2020) runs a biweekly meeting for the students, in which they collaborate on current assignments. There are currently 14 UpperClass EcoReps, most of whom participated in the program as first-year students. Each member picks from one of two tracks- a mentorship program or an area program track. All EcoReps work together on monthly newsletters sent to their respective living areas. All students, faculty, and staff can sign up to receive the monthly UpperClass EcoReps newsletter here.
Students who choose the mentorship track work with committees of first-year EcoReps. Each committee has their own project, and UpperClass EcoReps choose which committee to work with based on the projects that interest them. One example is the Community Engagement committee, who is working with Grow Green Rochester, a local urban agriculture program. They have been building greenhouse beds and helping to support renewable energy usage. According to Aviste, the mentors help first-year students develop realistic and achievable plans.
EcoReps who choose the area program track work together to create programs for the upperclassmen living areas of campus. While the first-year programs are designed for one hall within a residential building, the UpperClass EcoReps programs reach a whole residential area. The Riverview area program held last semester organized a viewing of an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver pertaining to food waste. After a brief discussion about the episode, the group walked to the Westside Farmers Market to purchase local produce.
Being a Residential Life program helps the EcoReps communicate with students living in on-campus housing with ease. The UpperClass EcoReps’ recent changes have helped them achieve what Aviste describes as the “goal of support(ing) sustainability within residence halls.” Aviste further says, “EcoReps is a growing program that is constantly aiming for improvement. If anyone would like to provide input or join us in our efforts in regards to either the EcoReps or Upperclass EcoReps program we would love to hear from them.” Anyone interested in a collaboration can reach out to the group by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured above are EcoReps coordinators, from left, Maxwell Sheldon ’20 – Community Engagement Coordinator, Dax Emerson ’21 – Ecorep Coordinator, Micaela Wallace ’21 – Ecorep Coordinator, and Rosemary Aviste ’20 – EcoRep Director. (University of Rochester photo)
Written by Isabel Lieberman, Class of 2021