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American studies class starts recycling program for Greek life

Miami University’s American Studies (AMS) 303: Consumer Culture class, taught by Carolyn Hardin, is working with Greek organizations on campus to start a recycling program. 

The class is primarily targeting fraternities but has reached out to sororities as well. Senior political science major Sonny Gast has worked to connect her classmates with sororities and different resources on campus.

“We also knew that fraternities had a large amount of things that they could recycle and that they weren't previously recycling,” Gast said. “We figured it'd be an easy target because they're trying to do good things in the community.”

Senior American studies major Emily Garforth is the organizational point person for getting recycling bins into the fraternity houses. 

“I think that it's just an easy thing for fraternities to do, and it would make a small but meaningful difference on campus,” Garforth said. 

Garforth said fraternities can recycle by emailing the city of Oxford and requesting that recycling services be added to their water and refuse utility bill, which includes an initial $1 fee for green, wheeled recycling bins and an additional $3.80 per month. On Feb. 1, 2020, the amount per month will increase to $4.25. 

Fraternities can use the AMS 303 class to help connect them to the city of Oxford. The class also created a website where fraternities can be featured if they pledge to begin recycling. 

Hardin has taught AMS 303 for four years, but this is her first time implementing this project. 

“When I first started teaching [AMS 303], I included a final project where the students would, in groups, come up with a campaign to address a particular issue and consumer culture,” Hardin said. 

This year, Hardin had students pick a project to implement based off previous classes. Students reviewed past proposals and chose one to create a campaign around. 

“It's also been a little anxiety-inducing as a professor,” Hardin said. “It’s not as easy as just staying in the classroom and having them think stuff up and write it and grade it.”

Hardin said she originally designed the project with the intention of it ending with the fall semester, but students wanted the project to continue even after the semester ended. 

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“They're communicating with targeted organizations about what they can continue to do in the future,” Hardin said. “It's been really cool to see students take ownership of it and figure out what it will take to make it work.”

Senior marketing major Matt Murray helped gain the support of the Interfraternity Council (IFC). 

“If we can get one fraternity to just pledge they're going to keep recycling as the semester goes forward, I'd say that's success,” Murray said.