A change in structure for the sustainability committee has a former member upset.
Temple Student Government’s Nov. 15 senate meeting was accompanied by an announcement indicating that the organization’s Special Committee of Sustainability would be disbanded; then-Director of Sustainability Advising Kyle Goldstein announced his departure.
Roughly two months post-resignation, Goldstein contends that the committee’s eradication was evident of business turning personal.
“They just didn’t want me as a leader anymore,” Goldstein said in an e-mail. “It wasn’t the position. It was just me.”
Goldstein said he felt “left in the dust,” after Saltry let him know of the committee’s disbandment and when other TSG members began to ignore him.
Saltry said he initially created the position so Goldstein could work closely with Students for Environmental Action and champion its causes.
“I wanted Kyle to be my sustainability guide, my eyes and ears in the environmental community,” Saltry said. “Find[ing] initiatives that [SEA] wanted to do that needed administrative backing or programs.”
Saltry said he did not envision the sustainability committee pursuing its own initiatives and programs, as Goldstein’s did.
“TSG was coming up with ideas in addition to the ideas that SEA was coming up with,” Saltry said. “It was like TSG was taking credit for what [SEA] was doing.”
However, Goldstein said he was never told exactly what his position consisted of and never received any feedback on his performance within the committee. He said he went to meetings every week, reached out to other organizations and consistently came up with new ideas.
The disbandment, Goldstein said, was not correlated with the fact that the committee had not done enough.
“Being noticeably proactive within TSG takes time, and we had quite a lot we were working on,” Goldstein said. “Plus, TSG is notorious for not being productive anyway.”
Goldstein said he had worked closely with Amelia Garrett, the president of SEA, during his run as director.
Goldstein said that after the committee was disbanded, Garrett told him he had a bad track record and Saltry no longer wanted to work with him.
While Garrett declined to comment on the alleged conversation, she said there were “some personal conflicts,” between herself and Goldstein.
“Kyle was trying to take [the committee] a step further,” Garrett said, “which is great, but you have to make sure the organization you’re with is OK with that.”
Since the committee’s eradication, Senator for the College of Science and Technology Leslee Everett is now the senior adviser to the senate president for campus sustainability.
While there is no longer an official committee, Saltry said he assigned Everett to do what he had intended for Goldstein to do: observe, report and find out what SEA needs.
“We weren’t getting the type of work done that we needed to be done,” Saltry said, “and I thought it was better to just change forces entirely.”
Everett, who previously worked with Goldstein in the sustainability committee, said in an e-mail that Goldstein’s leadership skills were strong but that the committee hadn’t accomplished anything except hosting a table at Sustainability Week.
“There was nothing that we could say that was actually materialistically accomplished,” Everett said. “We were only two people, but we should have showed something for our efforts.”
Although Goldstein said he believes TSG is not committed to sustainability, Saltry said the organization is still mindful of the cause.
“Have we changed the world? No,” Saltry said. “But I think we’ve raised the consciousness [of a sustainable community.]”
Saltry said he created the director of sustainability advising position after he was named senate president last year. He said he no longer had the time he felt was necessary to dedicate to sustainability causes, such as last year’s proposed green fee.
TSG and SEA spent months working on the green fee, a $5-per-semester fee for full-time students that would go toward making Main Campus greener and more sustainable.
While the green fee petition had 3,294 signatures on it, the University Fees Committee denied the proposal last April.
Goldstein said his committee was “among the most proactive” of any committee in TSG. He said during senate meetings, other committee chairs would give brief reports or report nothing at all.
However, Saltry said other committees are working on a lot of “behind the scenes stuff,” such as fixing the problem with lost Owl Cards, implementing temporary IDs for Diamond Dollars and Meal Plan packages, as well as getting vending machines in the TECH Center and Samuel L. Paley Library.
Goldstein said students should be aware of TSG’s operations, adding that students’ tuitions are funding the organization.
“Just like citizens pay taxes, students pay tuition and fees, and that money is paying for TSG’s $60,000 dollar budget,” Goldstein said, “and for their executive board members to have free or reduced tuition.”
“I think it’s important for students to know this is how their student government operates,” Goldstein said. “They strive to form a decent relationship with the 40,000 students at our university, and they failed to do so with just one, who happened to be a member of their own organization.”
Cary Carr can be reached at email@example.com.