Composting service OSCAR expands presence on campus

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The bin that holds the compost that students bring from Chilcott Residence Hall at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. River Lisius/The Occidental

The Occidental Student Compost Association with REHS (OSCAR) — previously known as the Student Compost Working Group — continues to implement composting in residence halls, now as an official club. To maintain a permanent presence on campus, the club is considering becoming a student service. According to the Occidental Student Services page, a student service is an organization that receives funding from Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) and provides employment and leadership opportunities, such Bike Share and the Bengal Bus.

OSCAR members are talking with Residential Education & Housing Services (REHS) about the club becoming a student service, according to Elizabeth Braxton, the associate director of REHS.

“That is still unclear. The students have started the initial conversations about the longevity of the program. Student services is an option to take, and all of us are new to it,” Braxton said.

Liz Noble (sophomore), president of OSCAR, spoke about obtaining student service status.

“To become a student service, we have a long process. Right now, one of the biggest things that we’re working on is getting our compost workers’ positions approved by HR,” Noble said.

OSCAR Co-President Elizabeth Noble at Haines Residence Hall at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2019. River Lisius/The Occidental

According to Noble, OSCAR becoming a student service would ensure its permanence at the college.

“We hope to, this year, present our whole proposal to facilities and various departments on campus, and see if we can have our student workers actually written into the budget of one the departments on campus so that we become a permanent fixture at Occidental, where people get hired every year and funding is given, rather than having to apply with REHS every year,” Noble said.

OSCAR formed out of The Student Compost Working Group, created by Stella Ramos* (junior) during her first year at Occidental, which consisted of student workers emptying and maintaining compost bins in Braun Hall. The success of the project led to the opening of a second composting location in Chilcott Hall in Spring 2019. According to Noble, OSCAR will install compost bins in Haines Hall at the end of September 2019 and in Stearns Hall shortly afterwards.

“Ideally, there will be composting available in all the residence halls. Getting there and figuring out what that structure looks like is the next challenge,” Braxton said.

Efforts to increase composting on campus, which previously involved only student workers, are now assisted by the administration.

“Our e-board members work a lot with facilities and REHS to actually figure out how we can become a more permanent service on campus and also to get our campus programs up and running,” Noble said.

According to OSCAR’s co-president and sustainability assistant Angelina Lee (sophomore), Jenny Low, the former sustainability coordinator, worked with the former Student Compost Working Group until her departure this past summer.

“I think Jenny, and just the position of sustainability coordinator, was really integral and so efficiently connected students, staff, and faculty,” Lee said.

According to Noble, OSCAR is currently planning events and holding bi-weekly meetings to encourage students to compost and show them how to do it correctly. Lee and Noble hope composting will be available in all 12 residence halls by the time many of the current members graduate.

“Fingers crossed we can have compost bins in all dorms by Spring 2022,” Lee said.

*Stella Ramos is a staff writer for The Occidental.