Students at the University of Dallas are often recognized for their many talents and achievements, ranging from athletics to astronomy. However, it seems that UD students are not appropriately concerned with the environment. As Dallas is notorious for poor environmental care, UD’s general disregard for waste management doesn’t differ noticeably from the habits of the rest of Dallas residents. After all, the environment is typically portrayed as a Californian issue, so why should we care about it in the Lone Star State?
Although ecological conservation may be low on the radar at UD’s Irving campus, many UD students now have an undeniable reason to care about their impact on the environment. Dr. Peter Hatlie, dean of the UD Rome program, recently announced that the city of Marino will begin to fine Due Santi if the campus does not improve its waste management. As a result, waste bins at the Rome campus are now divided into sections for organic waste, paper and cardboard; metal and plastic; glass; and non-recyclables. Rome students must learn how to sort their waste into these categories or risk affecting our school financially.
These changes for Marino and Due Santi reflect Italy’s growing concern for the environment. In the past, the European Union (EU) has criticized some regions of Italy for insufficient waste management, according to the European Commission, but the recent increase in regulations and innovations demonstrate that some areas in Italy are committed to improving the environment.
Marino’s new rules and progressive system present a stark contrast to the poor waste management situation in Dallas. Italians produce about half the amount of waste compared to the EU average per person, according to Eurostat. Dallas, on the other hand, has the lowest diversion rate of any Texas metro; this means that the majority of Dallas’ waste ends up in landfills. It is important for Dallas to consider increasing waste management regulations as the need for recycling grows more urgent — both for ecological and economic considerations.
Dr. Jonathan Culp, director of International Studies at UD, said that he no longer discusses ecological concerns in his classes because these issues do not seem to gain traction with his students.
“My impression from the get-go was that there were a certain number of students that were simply skeptical about whether the problem [of climate change and environmental protection] even existed, but even beyond that it seemed like for the most part, for most students, it was not something that they saw as an urgent problem in any way,” Culp said.
“At a lot of more ‘standard’ schools, that’s almost one of the only things you could probably get everybody to agree on. It’s almost a kind of litmus test of social consciousness.”
Culp added that the predominance of conservative thought and identity at UD probably contribute to the general distaste about environmental concerns, as these problems are often issues that are swept up into a kind of identity politics.
Due Santi’s increased regulations may not permanently alter the perspective of students. However, these new rules will certainly provide our Rome students with a knowledge and awareness of the importance of recycling and composting. Understandably, many UD students may not be fully aware of the importance and methods of recycling, but Marino’s new rules give the Rome students the opportunity to learn about proper waste disposal. Perhaps these new regulations outside of the UD Bubble will help to create a cultural shift of attitude toward environmental conservation at UD.
We can unite with our friends in Rome by making more of an effort to “reduce, reuse and recycle” on the Irving campus. Once you have finished reading this newspaper, please consider recycling it rather than throwing it in the trash. Although it may be a little inconvenient, we have the opportunity to make our common home a better place.