App State SGA creates sustainable development committee to broaden, bring back initiatives

Jake Markland, Reporter

While other students were winding down from a semester rocked by COVID-19 this spring, App State’s SGA honed in on goals for the 2020-21 academic year, despite a life-altering pandemic, and established a sustainable development committee. 

The committee was created to broaden sustainability initiatives, replacing the environmental sustainability committee that was dissolved in the 2019-20 academic year. 

Sam Gass, a sophomore, served as the interim chairman of the sustainable development committee leading up to elections and is now the official chairman. Gass said the committee will now be able to do more for the student body, university and town of Boone. 

“Sustainability is a conjunction of social, economic and environmental issues,” said Gass, a sustainable development major. “So I wanted to create a more holistic committee that tackles more holistic issues.”  

With elections completed, SGA Senators applied to committees after their Sept. 10 training and Senate Pro Tempore Jay Gibson will make assignments.

Gass hopes the committee will consist of students from different academic fields, collegiate years, races and genders. He looks forward to establishing goals and drafting legislation. 

“This is not going to be a committee that just sits around,” Gass said.  

Devin Mullins, SGA director of  sustainable development, believes the committee will spread its wings wider than SGA’s past projects because of its broader definition. For example, food insecurity.

“We can’t develop sustainably at App State, we can’t grow our numbers if we don’t have the capacity to feed people,” said Mullins, a junior.

Mullins said that App State, known for sustainability, has a responsibility to uphold that reputation. Mullins said App State students must be more intentional with their actions because Boone is still here for the people that already live here after students graduate. 

“Responsibility, I think, is key,” Mullins said. “Too many people come to college, they’re just here for four years, they have no responsibility to the institution or the area they’re in and I think that’s wrong.” 

Mullins said he wants students to be more engaged with two “big picture” points: a push for climate neutrality and academic integration of sustainable development courses. 

Mullins believes that if App State is going to pride itself in its reputation as a sustainable university, it shouldn’t contribute to the problem of climate neutrality, and more students should join the cause. 

“We will be a much stronger voice if we have more people involved in that proces,” Mullins said. 

Mullins also said he wants App State to capitalize on its reputation and implement sustainability courses into the general education requirements and all academic fields.

“Whenever we go out into the world and we have careers, what do we want people to think of when they find out we went to Appalachian State?” Mullins said.