In the fall of the 2016-2017 school year, Matt Harmin was hired as the sustainability coordinator. As sustainability coordinator, his main role was to facilitate environmental action on campus, serve as a resource person, and collect data for annual reports. Harmin was paid an annual salary in the low $30,000 range, using funding from the Green Fund fee.
Now that Matt Harmin is no longer at Goucher, the Goucher Environmental Sustainability Advisory Council (GESAC) has been discussing whether or not to retain the position. Part of this discussion includes determining whether or not it is ethical to pay a salary from a fund created through student fees, as it may not be feasible as a long term source of funding. The newly formed student organization of environmental clubs, the Goucher Green Coalition, planned to petition for the position to continue, but before they could send out their petition, the position was approved by the administration and sent to be reviewed by Human Resources.
It remains a question, however, whether or not the coordinator will be paid through the Green Fund. In response to this, Grosso stated, “I think that I speak for a lot of students when I say that I would vastly prefer a Sustainability Coordinator paid via the Green Fund than no coordinator at all,” in an email conversation. She envisions the sustainability coordinator as essential in connecting environmental clubs and spearheading environmental action on campus.
For the year and a half that Matt Harmin was Goucher’s first sustainability coordinator, he chaired GESAC, acquired grant funds to support Energy Dashboard system, and worked with students on Green Fund projects, among other responsibilities. He also organized events like mushroom hunting, and instated a discount for students who brought their own bottle or mug to the dining halls.
Having a staff position entirely dedicated to sustainability also makes Goucher’s commitment to the environment more evident. The petition leverages this, bringing up the fact that Goucher is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and that President Bowen has signed the President’s Climate Consortium, and positing that hiring a sustainability coordinator will help Goucher uphold its commitment to these agreements.
Another reason for hiring a sustainability coordinator is for increased continuity of leadership around environmental issues. However, the salary may be detrimental to this proposed goal. Sophia Hancock, ’18, expressed concern that if a coordinator is paid a salary of around $30,000, they won’t stick around. How long would it be, she wondered, before they found a higher-salary position? If the sustainability coordinator were only in the position for a couple years, they would not be at Goucher longer than most of the student population. While the question of continuity may remain difficult to answer, if the position is renewed, Grosso is considering applying for it after graduation, and she encourages other students to do so as well.
To find out more about the Green Fund, click here.
If you’re interested reading a full job description for the sustainability coordinator, or in finding out more about the Goucher Green Coalition, contact Rachel Grosso at firstname.lastname@example.org.