RSO shows sustainability movie, hosts panel

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Sustainability Club, a new Registered Student Organization at the University of Indianapolis, made their campus debut on Feb. 20. Sophomore environmental science and environmental sustainability major and vice president of Sustainability Club Sarah Ruehl helped start the RSO. Ruehl said the goal of the RSO is to bring UIndy on board with environmental sustainability. According Ruehl, it is hard to define what sustainability is, but can be described as being less wasteful and not being destructive to the environment.

To introduce the club and raise awareness about sustainability, the RSO held a pre-showing of National Geographic’s documentary “From the Ashes” in the Health Pavilion’s Annis Theatre. According, the documentary gives an inside look at life on the ‘war on coal’ forefront.

Ruehl said she heard about the documentary through an email she received from National Geographic that said they were willing to give the documentary to college campuses who would show it and hold a discussion afterwards.

Ruehl said that another reason the club decided to show the documentary was because it displayed a diverse group of people with different political viewpoints on how coal is affecting our environment negatively. According to Ruehl, she also hopes that the audience saw both sides of the argument and that there is a way to meet in the middle.

“It’s hard for the communities that rely on coal to let it go, but [relying on coal is] something that needs changed,” Ruehl said. “Forcing these communities isn’t the right way to end coal. But we can support them in transitioning to cleaner energy.”

Junior philosophy and applied psychology major Connor Waddell attended the event to learn more about the ‘war on coal.’ Waddell said the documentary clarified what the ‘war on coal’ is and the problems involved.

“[The problem] could be much worse if we don’t try to fix it,” Waddell said. “I found it surprising that nothing has really been done to stop the coal industry.”

Junior environmental science major Stephanie Burdsall also attended the showing and said it was eye opening to see people still fighting for coal and against renewable energy.

“I understand that people don’t want to lose their jobs and keep the economy running on coal,” Bursdall said. “But I think that renewable energy is definitely the way to go and the documentary really showed that.”

The RSO also held a panel discussion led by Assistant Professor of Physics and Earth Space Science Leah Courtland and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Levi Mielke. The two helped to answer  and clarify some questions and inform students on how to get involved locally, according to junior environmental science major Max Gerhardt.

“In the documentary we saw this one town in Texas that went completely renewable,” Gerhardt said. “That was inspiring. At the national level, you can’t really do much but vote, which is impactful.”

Burdsall also said that the panel and the movie made her realize that conserving energy is one way that both the school and students can practice sustainability.

“I think it’s really wasted on campus especially,” Bursdall said. “I think the Health Pavilion did a great job, obviously it’s a new building, but I think all or almost all the lights are automatic. But for the rest of the university there are lights on constantly even when no one is using the building. Hopefully the RSO can have more say in these issues and can help with that.”

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