By Nicole Belanger, Laura Fowler, Lisa Kinslow, Courtney Meier, KellyOngman, and Tracey Walker.
Laura Nichols' Applied Sociology, Fall 2007.
A group of students enrolled in Santa Clara University’s Applied Sociology course Fall 2007 conducted both a survey and individual interviews with office administrators to collect data on what is being done, what needs to be done, and best practices to make university offices more “green.”
The results of the survey and interviews with administrative assistants illustrate the current practices, barriers to sustainability, and future program suggestions for offices at Santa Clara University. The survey specifically yielded information about sustainable practices already being done and those which are most commonly ignored. The most common practices being performed around campus offices are the acts of turning off computers, monitors, and printers overnight. However, the least common sustainable practice was demonstrated to be not using or turning off power strips at night or over weekends. In terms of reducing waste, the most common sustainable practice was recycling batteries and ink cartridges while the least common sustainable practice was using refillable pens and pencils. Regarding the environment, administrative assistants make an effort to keep live plants in the offices and use non-toxic cleaners.
Interviews conducted with administrative assistants illustrated that the most commonly recognized barrier to sustainable practices is a lack of education and awareness of best practices for not only office personnel, but faculty, staff, and students as well. Other commonly cited barriers were the necessity of paper usage around campus and the difficulty in breaking other less sustainable practices. Recommendations have also been made with the resulting data from both the survey and interview data, which include cutting back on paper usage through the implementation of electronic resources, and implementing more ways to educate people on campus about best practices.
All of the students were 2008 graduates of Santa Clara University’s Sociology Department. This project was done as part of the class, Applied Sociology, taken in the Fall of 2007.