The Princeton Review recently released its Guide to 322 Green Colleges. Three Utah school made the cut, but Provo’s own BYU was not among them (nor was UVU in neighboring Orem). KSL reported on the methodology of the rankings here.
Only so much can be made of rankings like this, but the Princeton Review is respected and often cited by BYU itself when the school does well. So it matters.
That BYU was edged out by 322 other, greener schools is an abysmal commentary, especially considering the LDS Church technically believes people are supposed to be wise stewards of the earth. Not surprisingly, most prestigious American universities show up on the list, as do small local institutions like Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s disheartening to think that the school — my alma mater — is run by a church with the resources to build a $2 billion mall, but even a tiny liberal arts college is investing more in environmental responsibility.
BYU can do whatever it wants, of course, and if it choses not to champion stewardship as some of its well-regarded peers have done that’s the decision of its administrators. It’s also worth noting that BYU does many other things very well.
But even if I wasn’t a BYU alum this would be disheartening because the school is obviously still the major player in Provo, culturally and especially economically, even if the city is growing and diversifying.
That means that while the city undertakes all sorts of green initiatives — opt-out recycling, free trees, new bike lanes, to name a few — the most nationally recognizable Provo insitution is failing in a major area. That doesn’t just reflect poorly on those people — again, like me — who are associated with BYU and its parent institution; it also reflects poorly on the surrounding community that allows it to happen.