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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Earth Week Survey Results Are In!

Last spring, over eight hundred students filled out surveys during the week surrounding Earth Day. The survey was intended to help determine the environmental literacy and behavior of the student body while gauging interest in environmental activities on campus. Sadly, some results were lost when my apartment was burglarized. However, volunteers worked hard to complete an analysis of the remaining surveys.

Students at UMB expressed deep concern for the environment. Fifty-four percent of students claimed that environmental issues are very important to them, with an additional thirty-nine percent saying that environmental issues were moderately important. However, only twenty percent considered themselves very knowledgeable about environmental issues. Despite the lack of confidence, the majority of students correctly identified at least one of the largest sources of electricity for UMB. This was a trick question, as the source varies between natural gas, coal, and oil. There is clearly a desire among students to learn more about the environment, as over half of students surveyed said they would be interested in environmental studies if it was offered as a major.

UMB students make lifestyle choices that reflect their concern about the environment. Less than half of the students surveyed commute to campus by car. This is an impressive statistic considered the great distances many students travel to attend classes. Of the non-drivers, sixty-one percent cited environmental reasons; while sixty-eight percent were deterred by the high cost of parking (students could mark more than one reason).

Students at UMB are also concerned about the problem of over-packaging and waste. While there were no questions on the survey regarding dining services at UMB, a number of students wrote in comments expressing disdain towards the use of disposable plates and utensils by cafeterias on campus. The survey administers handed out reusable mugs and reusable shopping bags made from recycled plastic bottles to all students who completed surveys. We recommend using the mugs at the cafeterias to reduce waste, while the bags can be used for shopping to reduce packaging. Worldwide, plastic bags are consumed at a rate of almost one million per minute. The bags used in the United States alone use twelve million barrels of oil a year, and they can take up to one thousand years to break down. Seventy-four percent of students said they would use the bag for grocery shopping. Thank you, UMB students for reducing consumption of these wasteful products, and thanks to the Student Senate for providing funding for the bags!

The surveys have been very helpful in giving direction to the planning of earth week activities for this spring. Over half of the students surveyed believe that their health has been negatively affected by the environment. Due to this overwhelming concern about the connection between health and the environment, this year’s earth week film series will have an environmental health theme. In addition, students showed interest in attending many of the events that had low attendance last year. The survey helped us to realize that these events were poorly attended due to schedule conflicts, lack of advertising, and poor weather rather than lack of interest. In response, we will continue events such as the speaker symposium and the Earth Expo.

The earth week planning committee would like to thank both the students who participated in our survey those who volunteered their time to administer it. If anyone is interested in volunteering at this year’s earth week celebration, please contact Ulrike Baigorria at [email protected]. We hope that everyone will consider attending at least one activity. Mark your calendars now!

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Earth Week Speaker Forum on Alternative Energy: Wednesday, April 21, 2:30-4:00pm, Small Science Auditorium.

Environmental Film Series: Wednesday, April 21 and Friday, April 23, 12-1:30pm, Provost’s Conference Room, Healey Library.

Earth Expo: Thursday, April 22, 9am-4pm, McCormack, 2nd floor lobby.

Beach Cleanup: Saturday, April 24, 9am at the Charles River. Contact [email protected].