IGNITE interviewed Uraiba Asif, the Student Association Sustainability Officer 2016/17. In addition to the experience she accumulated throughout the year of service to UNMC, she addressed the fulfilment of her Manifesto. Here is her message:
Having provided your service to the UNMC community throughout the year, how do you currently feel? How has your team – Sustainability Network – been operating?
It’s a good feeling but also accompanied by that constant reminder that there is always much more to do. It’s a bit sad too how time flew by so fast and our journey together is almost at an end.
Compared to the team prior to my service, we are now actually a very, very small team. Previously, we distributed environmental work to the Green Team, but now we have been working together on all issues.
I am glad I got the opportunity to do so much in such a short amount of time (thanks to my amazing team) with a few exceptions. There are always hiccups, but every setback is a lesson to be learnt and motivation to push harder for the things we want.
The main focus of your team since the start of your service has been environmental conservation. What specific plans has your team executed throughout the year?
Yes. In terms of the environment, firstly we have enforced the separation of food wastage from solid wastage throughout the campus. Such management of waste may speed up the composting process done by contractors. But the main problem – students not throwing food or solid waste into the specified dustbin – frequently caused delays in the process. We hope students to be spontaneous and aware of their waste disposal because we cannot physically be on the spot to instruct or rectify.
We have also implemented the program of ‘Greener Halls’. It is a friendly competition between residential halls on campus in terms of electricity consumption. Surprisingly, what we realised months ago was that the consumption of electricity on campus is actually reducing.
Also, we have been working the car-pooling program. But when we try to implement it, we keep seeing loopholes within the whole system. So it is difficult to work out. My biggest challenge, I think I can say for all Execs, in general, would be to convince. When we think of an idea or a project, it involves many different groups of people. So, we need to negotiate and convince everyone involved why it will be beneficial to students. Sometimes people are really busy and it is extremely difficult to get in touch or get their full support.
Another focus of your team was social integration, justice and equality. What specific activities has your team organised with regard to the objective?
The main emphasis was to increase the number of ramps on campus; not only for the permanently disabled community but also students who get injured or who have temporary mobility issues especially after sports event such as Nations Cup. We have worked so hard on building a ramp linking the cafeteria directly to the F3 building. However, financially and in terms of time, the UNMC management has been focussing on other aspects of campus development. It is a long-term project.
Other than that, we recently have attained an approval by the Provost to attempt at organising a multi-faith room before officially establishing a permanent one on campus. We would devise further actions based on the response of our trials.
Epic Homes and the UNMC Sustainability Network has been closely cooperating. Other than Speed Dating, Epic Homes has been one of the beneficiaries of the UG module that relates to community service. The charity organisation has been invited to further expand the awareness of the marginalised in society on campus. Proceeds from fundraisers during community services will go to the organisation too.
Proceeds from the Speed Dating event went to the charity organisation, Epic Homes.
The upcoming event organised by your team would be the Sustainability Week 2017. What is the aim of the event? What activities does that comprise? Would that be your final activity as the Sustainability Officer?
It will be held two weeks later starting on the 20th of March until the 24th, in collaboration with the Nature Club. It has a theme of ‘Conservation’ with particular focusses on environmental protection and animal welfare. You know animals are abused and used as tools in the circus? We are trying to raise awareness about that.
The university of Malaya will be collaborating with us in the organisation of a museum, hopefully. The university would provide us with exhibits that include minerals, fossils and insects. We will then also have a trip to the Elephant Sanctuary. We are also opening a participation opportunity for people to sign up to help us with the Community Garden in front of the Pangkor Hall. The Sustainability Week will end with the Earth Hour.
This might or might not be our final event because even though we have only around three months left, we are still devising multiple plans, one of which might be a collaboration with the Feminist Society. I cannot reveal details yet because it is still in the planning process.
Do you have any advice or suggestion for your successor?
I certainly hope that our long-term plans such as the establishment of the long ramp between the cafeteria and the F3 building will continue to be focused on. One year of time is not sufficient especially with the size of my team we have been working on so many events throughout the year.
Most importantly, my successor, stay focused and don’t feel let down when everything doesn’t always seem to go your way. Improvise, stay determined and just do your best!
Written by Teoh Sing Fei.