The Office for Sustainability celebrates our friends and colleagues who work tirelessly to advance sustainability on campus and in the community. We call such individuals Sustainability Champions, because they are champions helping us create a culture of sustainability while improving quality of life for all.
Chiante Lymon, president, Western Student Association
As the Western Student Association (WSA) President, Chiante Lymon is the chief advocate for all Western Michigan University students. Her work as WSA President is geared towards improving the Western Michigan University student experience. Embracing sustainability is one of her strategies to achieve this.
WSA expands sustainability culture on campus through resolutions, which are policy statements written by a WSA cabinet member and passed by the Student Senate. One resolution that has proven to be a great success has been making Student Senate meetings paperless. The Student Senate holds weekly meetings with roughly 50 attendees. In the past, the agenda, purposed resolutions, and any other materials to be discussed would be printed out for each senator. Now, all necessary materials for meetings are sent via email ahead of time and projected on screen during meetings. Meeting participants are encouraged to bring their laptops or phones to pull up documents, which Lymon assures has not been a source of distraction. She discussed this successful culture change at a recent Board of Trustees meeting, encouraging campus groups at all levels to follow their example and make the shift to paperless meetings.
Lymon realizes the importance of setting students up for success by giving them the resources they need to behave sustainably at WMU, which is why campus improvements are a priority for her and the rest of WSA. Such improvements include creating more bike lanes around campus to promote biking; an endeavor that will allow students to be sustainable, active, and safe. She is aiming to host Bike Day during the spring of 2018; an event that will include giveaways, contests, activities, and information on biking. Another item on Chiante’s agenda is to revamp the Tobacco Free Policy campaign around campus in order to bring it back into the public eye, as it was when she was a freshman. She plans to establish more signage around campus to encourage smoke-free behaviors, which improve campus air quality. Additionally, she has engaged students in this effort by hosting a video competition in which students can submit an original 30 second public service announcement. The winning video will be shown at sporting events to further encourage smoke-free behaviors.
“We are the trailblazers and front runners for sustainability in the state of Michigan.”
Not only does Chiante represent all students in WSA, she represents the entire University as a member of the United States Student Association and the Student Association of Michigan. During a Student Association of Michigan conference last year Chiante presented on WMU’s sustainability endeavors to student government leaders from across the state. The response from this presentation was astounding; schools were reaching out to her for further information, materials, and advice for their own sustainability initiatives. Chiante was elated with the opportunity to share our knowledge and successes with a greater community, bettering quality of life for all, and strengthening intercampus ties.
Chiante is enthusiastic in pointing out the numerous ways students can get involved on campus. Any student can attend Senate meetings, held every Wednesday at 4 p.m. in 157 Bernhard Center, represent their registered student organization or academic college as a senator, apply for a Student Sustainability Grant, and reach out to WSA cabinet members via email or office hours. Students who are passionate about a sustainability project or initiative will be supported by WSA, all they have to do is reach out for help.
“Proper preparation for success is key. If we prepare ourselves in the proper way then we can succeed in anything that we want to do.”