In a world where universities constantly revamp their campuses with the latest technologies, while others mercilessly murder nature 24/7 and 365 days with brutal chainsaws, deadly chemicals and mining—all for a paper, Green Campus Initiative (GCI) at DUT tirelessly plough the spirit of caring and preserving the environmental that’s so kind to humankind.
The GCI is a university-wide student organisation which aims to make campuses greener by investing in sustainable resources and other environmentally friendly methods. It was first introduced to the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in 2012.
The founders of the organisation, concerned with the impact industrialisation has on the environment, decided to approach university management about an initiative that would encourage biological literacy among students and contribute to cleaner, greener campuses.
Over the years GCI, together with the School of Horticulture, has been pivotal in the planting of trees and plants around the university complexes, including residences and even in offices.
Following the 2-month long staff strike at DUT, GCI finally got the opportunity to formally induct its new members and kick off its annual “Go Green” campaign.
One of the founding members of DUT-GCI, Sifundo Nkosi urged the new representatives at the induction ceremony to take their responsibilities seriously.
“Community engagement is very important for any student in their university life. It helps you out there in the industry but also the fact that there’s a real opportunity here to make a real difference in our campuses,” he said.
Nkosi listed some of DUT GCI’s successes; among them was the installation of solar panels at Steve Biko campus, where they collaborated with engineering students.
The solar panels provide electricity to a number of rooms in the Engineering block, saving the university’s money.
The organisation instrumented Samsung to sponsor solar stand-off chargers in all seven campuses at DUT.
“The future is sustainable energy, climate change is upon us and it is in everyone’s capacity to reduce their carbon footprint and find innovative ways that could make our campuses greener,” said Nkosi.
Another success story is DUT GCI’s Project Officer, Luleka Kheswa, who started a miniature farm with her mother on her backyard in Escourt, KwaZulu-Natal.
They grow cabbages, spinach, tomatoes and onions.
“The misconception is that as GCI, all we do is going around campuses picking up papers and installing recycling bins. Yes, we do that, but we also go to conferences and they teach us how to plant, farm and grow food on different soils,” Kheswa said.
This 3rd-year Business Administration student realised that at her back yard there was a lot of unused land. After getting the soil tested, she then set off working the land and planting vegetable seeds.
The process has come full circle since she started in late 2016.
“Ukulima (farming) is nothing new, I think our parents were not properly educated about soil, irrigation, fertilisers etc. so that’s why maybe we have seen a dearth of farms from rural areas,” said Kheswa.
When Kheswa is at school, her mother runs the farm and sells some of the produce to the local green grocers.
The Chairperson of DUT-GCI, Nompilo Luthuli says the aim this year is to plant over 100 trees across campuses and residences.
She says one of the challenges is getting the whole student body involved in GCI beyond their flagship event of Mr and Miss Green.
“The only time people know GCI is when we have Mr and Miss Green. Our challenge is to create something that would equally excite students but also educate them,” she said.
(Thabiso Goba: firstname.lastname@example.org)