By: Elise Burgert
In the fall 2016 semester, SFU students voted in a referendum to increase the levy that SFU provides to the Embark Sustainability Society. This resulted in a small increase in the tuition paid by students, but has given the organization the opportunity to expand its projects. Three months after the vote, Embark’s vision has come to encompass the new funding.
Dima Lavrentyev, the Embark member relations officer, has provided an update on what Embark has done with its funds. Firstly, Lavrentyev “thank[s] all of the students who supported us and voted ‘Yes’ in the November referendums.” In character with its mission of sustainability, Lavrentyev said, “sustainable growth is the best path” for Embark, and the organization will be taking a “step-by-step approach in order to achieve everything that we planned.”
He emphasized that while the referendum was held in November 2016, the levy increase will not begin until September 2017. As a result, at this point the organization is “in the process of strategic planning and capacity building in preparation“ for the increase.
Lavrentyev gave two main objectives of the organization. The first is to “restore and maintain our current programs, events, and advocacy efforts” while accounting for inflation, which has decreased the value of its previous funding. In order to continue its operations, an increase in levy was needed, according to Lavrentyev.
Events and activities currently hosted by this organization include “weekly Food Rescue, recently held Career Night and National Sweater Day, and many other events” related to sustainability. One of the most prominent programs of the organization is the Embark Learning Garden located at SFU Burnaby, south of TASC 1. Another Embark program, the Food Rescue program, reduces food waste by delivering unsellable, but still good produce, to university students. Embark also offers monetary grants to those with plans to pursue sustainability-related projects.
The second objective of the organization with this new source of funding is to expand its programs to the Surrey and Vancouver campuses. Lavrentyev expressed positivity, stating that the organization is “prepared to make it happen!” With the new increase in funding, he said “It is truly an exciting time for Embark and our members, as we move forward and enter a new stage in our development.”
The expansion of programs to the other SFU campuses will increase the number of students who can participate in the events provided by Embark, in addition to spreading more awareness for the issues that they support.
Lavrentyev extended an invitation to all undergraduate and graduate students to Embark’s Annual General Meeting, which will take place on February 23 at 4:30 p.m. in the Halpern Centre. For interested students, Lavrentyev noted that “additional information about our advocacy, programming, and events can be found on our website.”
More updates on Embark’s progress with its increased funds can be expected in September 2017, when the organization will receive and apply the funds to their projects.