Checking in on the SA Series: Sustainability Officer

In our final installment of our Checking in with the SA series, IGNITE interviews Erik Ting Tze Yik, the Sustainability Officer of 2017/18.

The first semester is almost over. Do share with us some of the achievements you have made this year. How did such achievements relate to improving sustainability within the campus?

Honestly speaking, all the big projects and events will be during the second semester. In terms of the previous semester, the network focuses more on internal organisation training and development. I still believe that having a team of people to get used to our system and learning how to work under the Student Association is essential. However, we do also have collaborative events and effort with other Clubs and Societies. The collaboration with Fitness Club, Stress Relief Society and Buddhist Society, the event “Chillax Lah~” was successfully organised. The purpose of the event is to promote the awareness of mental health and providing a platform for students to express themselves and relax. Other than that, with the collaborative effort of the Home Student Officer and his team, we aim to promote love and kindness on campus by continuing the effort of my predecessor in organising “We Are One UNMC” project and also “Shower’ Em with Kindness”.  Both events happened in the same week and received great responses from the community and I will like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who had showed support. We are also honoured to be able to be work together with UNMC SEEN (Sustainable Environmental Education Network) on activities to promote Environmental and Food Waste awareness to the campus community. They are also managing the community garden and food waste management of the campus. Our goal is to improve the student involvement in such activities and to educate the community to manage their waste properly. Besides, we have also started some planning of bigger projects and events with Nature Club, ACE Society, PharmNotts and GEN (Gender Equality in Nottingham).  The student representatives of EGS and the Sustainability Network is also collaborating to reduce the use of plastic straws on campus, but the thing is it can only happen when all departments in Nottingham Malaysia are willing to provide the necessary assistance. Last but not least, the Sustainability Network and Home Student Network collaborated in raising funds for the flood victims in Penang and we successfully raising a total amount of RM1380. We will be updating our exciting events and projects on Facebook so stay tuned.

Collaborative events with other Clubs and Societies. Source: Sustainability Officer FB page

During the Sustainability Officer Hustings, a predominant topic discussed was the community garden. Do share with us the significance of this community garden. Does it stay true to its name in involving the UNMC ‘community’, in your opinion?

To me, the community garden is the place where students can gather and enjoy planting together. The community garden is an effort now under UNMC SEEN. Honestly I’ve only gone there a couple of times, but it is a nice place where I really get to learn about planting different plants and vegetables. Some vegetables or plants have different methods of planting them and the things you have to take note of are different, like with some you have to make a seed bed (I guess that’s how you call them?), some you have to dig big holes before you plant, how much water they need and many more. If we really take the time to try it, it’s really interesting and we get to learn a lot. Unfortunately, it is sad to say that not many students are actively involved, I must be honest I am not a regular member there as well. In my opinion, this is most likely due to the student’s own personal interest and also busy schedules; it’s something that we cannot force because the outcome may turn out bad. (For example, a lot of students have not even tried going to the place or attending the sessions. To encourage the involvement I guess the best way to promote that place is to really go try it out, you will never know whether you like it or not until you try it. The sessions will be the same on Tuesday and Thursday from 5pm to 7pm.

You mentioned during your manifesto that your ideas could not happen without the aid of a team. Please share with us the background of the personnel within the Sustainability Network and how did you ensure that you picked a team that was capable of contributing, if not enhancing, sustainability on campus?

As I mentioned before, the team is important as they are the ones who make Sustainability Network what it is today. However, selection for the team members is not easy because we have limited positions but slightly more responses than expected. We have team members who used to be holding significant positions before in their previous clubs and societies and some who are new and thirsty for knowledge. A lot of them know about sustainability network but not many know what we are doing or what the network is about, but then that’s what makes our goal easy to identify – other than to promote SDGs on campus, being able to make difference or activities that will make people know us. The team has carried out recruitment 2 times, the first one is before the year starts with the majority of them consisting of experienced personnel and the second one is open for recruitment with more new students signing up to tackle our manpower issue due to the filtering process after recruitment. The members are all committed to their position because I believe they all have a very strong sense of responsibility, willing to learn and they are willing to voice out their opinions and suggestions. Being able to create a “Home-y” feeling for them to share their opinions and ideas I guess is what makes the team great. I cannot guarantee that the expectations of others will be fulfilled or not, because it’s not up to us to decide and things are not always ideal. As long as my team tried their best to contribute their time and energy for what is best for the community on campus, it is more than enough.

At the hustings, you were questioned on how to get more international students involved with Nature Club. Firstly, what is your involvement with Nature Club, and has the involvement of international students increased?

Well, my part in Nature Club now is just as a normal member but I can provide suggestions to the team that’s all. Before I step down, the message was passed down to the current year admins of the club. I would say a way of getting more international students to get involved in a club is not as simple as sending an invitation to attend like an invitation to a wedding ceremony. The team opened up the committee recruitment for the members that participated in their Orientation Night but the results aren’t that satisfying. Recruitment of committees for a club is not just all about the club’s effort but also the members’ willingness to be involved in the Clubs and Society.

Finally, do you plan to involve yourself with this year’s Earth Hour and if so, how would you make sure that the event adheres to the principles of sustainability?

UNMC Earth Hour is a collaborative event with UNMC Nature Club all these while, but mainly organised by the UNMC Nature Club. The role of the Sustainability Network in any collaborative events in which we are not the main organiser is just to provide suggestions, assisting the club in inter-department communication, recruitment of volunteers from the community, financial assistance and also marketing. We are only allowed to influence the events decision if we are part of the organising committee of the event. In the case of Earth Hour, not much has been discussed as of yet therefore I cannot provide certain answers to the question of whether it adheres to the principles of Sustainability.

Written by Sheikh Muhammad Syaqil

"They say that great minds think alike, but also fools seldom differ"

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