The University of Memphis student plaza resembled a Tiger Lane football tailgate Tuesday afternoon as students flocked to party tents to enjoy autumn temperatures at the annual Tiger Blue Goes Green festival.
The Physical Plant Departments Office of Sustainability’s outdoor expo provided students ample refreshments and lunch options, while vendors from on and off-campus gave a range of educational presentations on environmental sustainability and conservation.
Sustainability manager Ameilia Mahayi coordinated the event and said her office hoped it would be an exciting, effective way to educate students about not only where their green fee tuition money is going, but also how to take advantage of the eco-friendly services available to them on campus.
“There’s Tiger Garden, Tiger Bike, Memphis Law and so many more,” Mahayi said.
Mahayi also said the green fee helped fund a sustainable paperless system used by the law school. Dean Meredith Aden, who represented the UofM law school at the fair, said it was a great opportunity to interface with undergraduates and promote the new sustainable, paperless UofM Resources app.
“So far, it’s been a great success, and we hope other departments adopt it,” Aden said.
Freshmen Karen Corea, who works for the sustainability office and assisted coordinating the event, said keeping stormwater drains functioning is a point of emphasis for her office this year. Corea said drinking water could become contaminated if storm drains become compromised, and urges anyone on campus to report suspicious activity.
“We’re working hard to stop illicit discharges from unauthorized third parties into our on-campus drains,” Corea said.
Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) lead demonstrations on conserving energy at home and gave away pamphlets, literature and other resources. Mike Hamrick, an MGLW energy technician, said the importance of checking for and sealing potential cracks in your air and heat ducts could not be overstated.
Hamrick said Memphians need to have MLGW’s information handy, and that the sooner they are notified of a problem, the quicker they will be able to respond.
Hamrick said that there are potential hazards that can be prevented, and if everyone does their part and is armed with the proper information, then inconvenience can be avoided and resources conserved on the front end.
“If you see a dangerous-looking limb near a power line, call MGLW tree-trimming at 901-320-1438,” Hamrick said.
Volunteers from “Protect the Aquifer” gave away signs and bumper stickers. President Ward Archer said they serve as watchdogs over the Tennessee Valley Authority, making sure Memphians’ drinking water remains untainted.
“It’s just exciting to see young people interested and asking questions about such an important issue,” Archer said.
In addition to environmental vendors, the United Campus Workers (UCW) union was represented at the fair. UCW representatives petitioned for student signatures advocating for the university to provide graduate health students with health care, as is the case at neighboring major state schools like Ole Miss. UCW union organizer Jayanni Webster said their cause hinges on whether or not providing health care for students is a priority for the administration.