4 Colleges That Care About Safety and the Environment

Written by | Updated April 9, 2014

Not every college has green as its color, but some universities are going green in an effort to lead the way to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Colleges that care about the future of the planet are on the cutting-edge of current world events and when those colleges take extra care with their students’ security, they can shoot right to the top of the list for prospective students.

Here are four colleges that are committed to keeping students safe while also protecting the environment.

1. Warren Wilson College

Environmental sustainability isn’t an initiative at Warren Wilson College; it’s a way of life. This private liberal arts college was the first to earn Platinum Certification from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for its EcoDorm, which was built in 2003. But Warren Wilson’s efforts on behalf of the planet don’t stop there, the college grows most of its food in organic gardens and college vehicles run on biodiesel. In 2008 “Sierra” magazine placed Warren Wilson as fourth in the country regarding their overall commitment to sustainability.

With such a strong commitment to protecting the environment, it’s no surprise that Warren Wilson translates that protectiveness into keeping their students, staff and faculty from harm. Campus Security works hard to make sure that Warren Wilson has both a green and a safe campus environment, providing regular patrols, security escorts and crime prevention education. These efforts helped keep Warren Wilson free from murder, assault, arson and robbery in 2011, as reported on their most recent crime report.

2. Evergreen State College

It’s hard not to be environmentally conscious with a name like Evergreen. In fact, Evergreen State College students and alumni are even referred to as “Greeners.” Situated in the lush Pacific Northwest, this public university boasts nearly 800 acres of forest and beach on its 1,000-acre campus. The natural surroundings might contribute to the eco-friendly culture at Evergreen. In addition to buying 100 percent clean power and transitioning to electric cars, Evergreen also maintains a 13-acre organic farm that is featured in classes like Organic Agriculture. Food produced on the farm is used on campus and donated to local food banks.

In addition to keeping the environment safe, the Department of Police Services looks out for the health and welfare of the more than 4,000 members of the Evergreen campus community. Evergreen takes a community-oriented approach to policing and the CrimeWatch program is crucial to that effort. CrimeWatch is a group of students employed as Public Safety Assistants who assist Police Services by providing safety escorts and keeping an eye out for any suspicious activities on campus. Between the campus police and CrimeWatch, Evergreen campus had no incidence of robbery, assault or murder in 2012, and the total number of crimes reported on campus that year was under 20.

3. Oberlin College

With an Environmental Studies building that was deemed a milestone building by the Department of Energy due to a 4,600 square foot photovoltaic array for solar energy, Oberlin College is a leader when it comes to sustainability. The college has used a web-based system to monitor energy and water usage in dorms since 2005 and even vowed to become climate neutral by 2025 by signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Focus on environmental sustainability hasn’t distracted Oberlin from working to keep their students, staff and faculty safe and sound every day. The Office of Safety and Security is on the job 24/7 providing foot, bike and vehicle patrols, emergency telephones and security escorts. Officers also respond to emergencies on campus and promote crime prevention through education and a series of programs designed to help members of the campus community take accountability for their personal safety.

4. Berea College

This liberal arts college has always been innovative, starting with their policy of granting all students full tuition scholarships. Berea College is also a work college, where all students work at least 10 hours per week at a job on campus. This work ethic is part of what helps Berea make a difference when it comes to environmental impact. The campus is home to an Ecovillage comprised of 50 ecologically sustainable student apartments. Through use of solar panels, wind power, rain collectors and eco-friendly appliances, the goals of the Ecovillage include reducing energy and water use by 75 percent and solid waste by 50 percent.

Students at Berea College also enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having round-the-clock security from the Department of Public Safety. Through a proactive combination of crime prevention and community involvement, there were no hate crimes, murder, stalking or arson on the Berea campus in 2012.

What green initiatives are in place at your college?

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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