Student project keeps SOU at the forefront of U.S. water conservation

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/eQLLBn)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University, which in 2012 became the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption, has renewed its five-year contract to offset the campus water footprint by supporting waterway restoration in Oregon.

ASSOU has completed a five-year contract for water restoration on Sevenmile Creek (BEF photo)

The project is student-led and will be funded over the next five years by $100,000 annually from a “Green Fund” tax – currently $13 per student, each term – that SOU students have imposed on themselves since 2007. The Green Fund also pays for several other sustainability projects on campus.

Water Restoration Certificates purchased by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University will pay for a ground-breaking piping and flow-restoration project over the next five years, primarily on Whychus Creek near Bend. The project will restore stream flow and fish and wildlife habitat, conserve millions of gallons of water, make more water available for irrigators and prevent the loss of fish in irrigation withdrawals by using state-of-the-art fish screens.

“The Whychus Creek water project is a fantastic opportunity to offset our campus’ water usage while restoring wildlife habitat and streamflow to a river in our community,” said Lindsay Swanson, who serves on ASSOU’s Environmental Affairs Committee. “As a student at SOU, I am proud of this university’s commitment to sustainable water usage.”

SOU students initially offset all of the university’s water usage in 2012 by purchasing Water Restoration Certificates to fund a five-year project on Seven Mile Creek in the Klamath River Basin.  That project has been completed, so students looked at a variety of options before choosing the Bend-area project to continue balancing SOU’s water footprint – and remain one of the few universities in the nation to do so.

The Environmental Affairs Committee considered using the Green Fund on renewable energy projects or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education training before voting to continue supporting water restoration.

“Heading into the next century, conservation of water resources will only become more and more important,” Swanson said. “As a university, it is our responsibility to recognize and mitigate the impact our campus has on the world around us, especially in regard to resource use.”

SOU’s student government works with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to purchase Water Restoration Certificates and identify projects to support. The non-profit BEF – which partners with the Bonneville Power Administration but operates independently – markets green power products to government agencies, businesses, utilities and others.

After adopting the Green Fund tax in 2007, SOU students were among the first in the nation to offset all of their university’s energy use by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates that supported North Dakota wind farms. After that initial five-year contract expired, SOU shifted to water restoration projects, in part to support environmental change closer to home.

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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.

OLLI open house to feature opportunities to engage with SOU

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/TbfRnp)

(Ashland, Ore.) — More than 700 attendees are expected when the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers its fourth annual open house with the theme, “Aged 50+? What’s in it for you at SOU?” The event will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26, in the Stevenson Union at SOU.

The open house will highlight OLLI’s program of courses for 2017-18 – including more than 100 that will be offered during fall term – along with a variety of other opportunities for community members to engage with the Southern Oregon University. For instance, those who are over 65 and have been Oregon residents for at least a year can audit most SOU courses tuition-free. Any community member with at least a high school diploma may take SOU courses for credit on an individual or “a la carte” basis, beginning two weeks before each term starts, if space is available. Community members can also help students with their housing needs by offering spare bedrooms for rent and can serve as volunteers for various academic, student support and community-facing programs at SOU.

Wednesday’s open house will feature 18 SOU exhibits and 20 OLLI instructors and event sponsors in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room. Another 18 exhibits by non-profit community partners will be in the student union’s lobby area.

Those who attend the event, which is free and open to the public, can enjoy free desserts and beverages, and enter drawings for door prizes. Those who preregister by today will be eligible for the grand prize drawing of a “Rogue Valley Theater Bundle” – tickets for two donated by the Britt Festival, Camelot Theatre, Oregon Cabaret Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

OLLI at SOU offers a variety of peer-taught, non-credit classes to almost 1,900 members at locations in Ashland and Medford. Membership is open to adults of any age, but the program is geared toward those who are 50-plus. More information is available on the OLLI website.

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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU rated among nation’s 50 Best Colleges for LGBTQ Students

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/7sZRsu)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been ranked 21st among the 50 Best Colleges for LGBTQ Students in 2017, according to the online publication College Choice. The new ranking is in line with that of Campus Pride, which has rated SOU as one of the nation’s 30 most LGBTQ-friendly campuses for the past four years.

In its ranking, College Choice cited the findings of Campus Pride – a leading educational organization for LGBTQ college students and campus groups – and also pointed to the university’s “impressive academics” and numerous resources for LGBTQ students.

“Recognitions similar to this one are important for our current and prospective students, especially as some juggle multiple factors in college choice, and in choosing to stay at SOU,” said Thomas Arce, coordinator of SOU’s Queer Resource Center.

“Our campus environment at SOU provides our students with a welcoming, inclusive and affirming learning and living space,” he said.

College Choice offers numerous rankings of colleges and universities, based on criteria ranging from “Happiest Freshmen” to “Most Affordable Online MBA.” The list of 50 Best Colleges for LGBTQ Students is topped by Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tuition rates at SOU are lower than at any of the institutions that are ranked higher on the College Choice list.

The University of Oregon, which ranked 28th, was the only other institution from Oregon on this year’s list.

“Even in a state that has a liberal reputation like Oregon does, it’s still important for universities to pay close attention to the needs of their LGBTQ+ students,” said Christian Amondson, the managing editor of College Choice. “That’s what Southern Oregon does, and that’s why it appears on this ranking.”

In its online rankings, College Choice points out that SOU faculty and staff are trained on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, hate crime prevention, trans-specific concerns and LGBTQ-specific career services.

NOTE: Thomas Arce can be contacted directly by media at arcet@sou.edu or at (541) 552-6488.

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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.