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ASFA ratifies sustainability policy

by Ian Down November 14, 2017
ASFA ratifies sustainability policy

Unanimously passed motion outlines guidelines for federation, MAs

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) has just ratified its first sustainability policy.

The policy, which was passed at a regular council meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9, lays out sustainable practice guidelines for the federation and its member associations (MAs). The motion was passed unanimously by the council.

The policy was first drafted in the 2016-17 academic year by interim ASFA president Julia Sutera Sardo, who was vice-president of internal affairs at the time, and Agunik Mamikonyan, the former vice-president of external affairs and sustainability. After being reviewed by ASFA’s policy committee, the policy was ready to be ratified at the federation’s final council meeting of the year in May. However, Sutera Sardo said the ratification process was delayed until this year so it could be approved by the new council and by the interim vice-president of sustainability, Bianca Bruzzese. The policy was also reviewed by ASFA’s sustainability committee before being ratified by council.

The four-page policy defines sustainability as “the process and outcome of achieving social activism, economic equality and environmental health by reducing our ecological footprint and empowering communities to meet their present needs, and then, their future aspirations.” Following this definition, the policy is divided into sections addressing environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The environmental sustainability section includes commitments to minimize material consumption, support environmental justice initiatives on campus and beyond, and establish relationships with Indigenous communities directly affected by resource extraction projects. The social sustainability section includes a commitment to “promote a strong, safe and empowering community by seeking to minimize systemic power imbalances within society and fostering a culture of anti-oppression as well as encouraging a culture of self-care.” The economic sustainability section states that ASFA will, whenever possible, support local businesses, refuse unsustainable corporate sponsorship and advocate for fossil fuel divestment both on and off campus.

The policy includes a number of strategies to encourage MAs to adopt sustainable practices. ASFA will encourage MAs to create their own vice-president of sustainability position; workshops on sustainability will be provided to all ASFA and MA executives by ASFA’s vice-president of sustainability; MAs will be provided with a copy of Sustainable Concordia’s Sustainable Event Guide and encouraged to follow its guidelines; and finally, MAs will need to fill out a sustainability checklist when submitting a cheque requisition to be reimbursed for events.

When asked if MAs could be refused reimbursement for not adopting sustainable practices, Sutera Sardo said this is possible but unlikely because of the importance ASFA places on MA autonomy.

Sustainability Concordia spoke out in favour of the policy. “We’re really glad that ASFA has taken this step,” said Sustainability Concordia’s external and campaigns coordinator Emily Carson-Apstein. “Sustainability is a huge, ongoing discussion in our office and among all the student associations, and it’s really a fluid and changing document. It’s not a one-time thing. This is a great first step, and we’re really excited to see where ASFA takes this and how we can help them.”

Photo by Mackenzie Lad

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