Students’ Support Needed to Back Issue on Pesticide Use

A commitment to sustainability is evident at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Sustainability is mentioned in our mission statement, and UWSP is frequently recognized as a top “environmental school” by organizations as varied as The Princeton Review and College Prowler.

These initiatives and achievements provide the foundation for UWSP to achieve greater sustainability.

To maintain a well-manicured campus, UWSP permits pesticide use on landscaped areas. Aesthetics are important, especially in an age of declining enrollments and greater competition for new students. It is also important to understand that use of pesticides diminishes the claim of a sustainable university.

The issue runs deeper than aesthetics, however. Pesticide use is also linked directly with cancer development and affects developing people under age 25 most intensely. In addition to the obvious population of students, there are two daycare facilities on campus, as well as pregnant women and women who will

According to Chris Brindley, building and grounds superintendent, UWSP uses only three herbicides — Roundup, Trimec, and Snapshot — for weed control around campus. None of these products have been proven to cause cancer, although the potential effects of Trimec and Snapshot are still relatively unknown.

Although UWSP has cut pesticide use considerably, it is crucial to assess pesticide use as a whole.

Despite evident issues with pesticide use, a solution to the problem is far off. Conflicting needs don’t help; the desire for an aesthetically pleasing campus for prospective students can clash with desire to protect health of students, faculty, staff and visitors in a chemical-free environment.

There seems to be no single solution to satisfy both of these needs. At this point, there is no evidence that prospective students consider the landscape of UWSP before enrolling. It seems that they, especially those leaving home for the first time, have much more to consider in a university than the state of the landscape.

As for possible solutions, one stands out as the most efficient and most conducive to learning. Landscape areas with native, wild plants that are able to live naturally, UWSP could reduce, if not eliminate, the use of herbicides.

As for aesthetics, areas could be properly labeled to explain why specific plants were there. These areas could also be used for educational purposes and studied in multiple classes.

The value of these otherwise unutilized, solely visual places would be considerably improved.

The elimination of pesticide use completely will be a greater task. According to Brindley, pesticides help avoid life-threatening situations on campus. Because of allergies, wasp nests must be removed, and the most efficient method uses insecticides.

Many faculty and staff members have been fighting for this change, but without student support, the problem of pesticide use will continue to endanger those on campus and to challenge claims of UWSP being a sustainable university.

Grace Ebert

Editor-in-Chief

geber176@uwsp.edu

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