Sustainability: by way of Bucknell
A 55 year old tree in perfect health lies hacked outside soon-to-be-razed Summit House, known to the campus LGBTQ community as Fran’s House, to make way for a new building to house the College of Management.
The building will no doubt adhere to the highest standards of LEED certification, corporate America’s ultimate marker of sustainable building practices. The building might have a shower for all those sweaty employees and students that drive into work. It will certainly have bike racks so that wealthy students can continue to drive their BMWs, Mercedeses, and Maseratis to class. Meanwhile, since our staff can’t afford to live in town because of the pathetic wages they’re paid, they drive in too. The few faculty that ride have bikes that are too nice to abandon to the elements. Offices, it turns out, can hold a bike or two. Bike racks nevertheless get us LEED points, just like showers. You get LEED points for imagining a clean, green, pretty, happy, curated lifestyle. You don’t get LEED points for deciding not to build.
The buildings will not have solar panels, they’re too much of an eyesore for majority of Bucknell’s target audience, a dangerous marker of a changing world. They might have LED lights and occupation sensing switches, those electronic servants that make our life so much better, but our electricity nevertheless comes from a natural gas fired power plant right here on campus. Bucknell will be carbon neutral they say, by 2030. And by 2030, I’m sure we will, the carbon dioxide belched out 24/7 metamorphosing magically into carbon credits, that ultimate capitalist invention that eats responsibility and shits money.
By the time the new Management building is finished, Bucknell would have spent close to a 100 million dollars on two big building projects. One destroyed open space. The other will take out the only housing on campus that the LGBTQ students could call home. They will be accommodated elsewhere, I believe. On this campus, the poor, the colored, and the different are accommodated. They are tolerated so that the top 1% of the country, that forms 20% of Bucknell can claim sensitivity to diversity. Racism, otherwise, lives on. The all-male-all-white-cis-het-normative fraternities, that form the only social scene on campus, ensure this. They also ensure that toxic masculinity, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, all thrive. Worry not, it is all LEED certified.
100 million dollars would have more than completely solarized our campus. And setup a waste to compost redirection system, and a farm, and many new faculty positions, and paid people a living wage. Yet we’re sold a story of austerity, of no money for programs. There’s talk of removing healthcare for retirees, of removing tuition benefits for staff.
Bucknell is no longer an educational institution. It is a brand. It is a brand to sell. And like all other commodities, once its use is over, it is discarded. And because it is discarded, in order to sustain it, you have to sell more of it. And each time our clientele gets bored, we have to erect a new building, to show our relevance, our prowess.
We are no longer a community that cares, and sustains its sphere of influence - the environment and the people in that environment, our students, faculty, and staff.
By way of Bucknell, use your degree and trash it. No, recycle it.