The UTM Residence Council held the “Envirolympics” in the Council Chambers of the Davis Building on Friday.
Participating students listened to keynotes by Deep Saini, the vice-president of U of T and principal of UTM, and by James Temple, the director of corporate responsibility at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Students also participated in two team competitions.
“One of the key things nobody is discussing is the issue of population,” said Saini. “We have stopped looking at population as a burden on the Earth’s resources and have started looking at it as human resource. As we move towards a nine-billion population, this outlook has to change.”
After the speech, students broke into groups for the first competition. The groups raced to different stations in the building, where they played games like Jeopardy and garbage-sorting, collecting points for prizes.
“One thing that stood out for me was a question in the Jeopardy game about how many trees go into making diapers every year. I was shocked that the answer was one billion,” said Debbie Ma, a third-year commerce student.
James Temple, a former TEDx Talk presenter, spoke about corporate responsibility in the workforce.
“Whether you’re passionate about the environment or giving back or making a difference, it doesn’t mean everybody else in the world is, because life isn’t perfect. The attitude we need to have is embracing change and embracing difference and how we can bring people back along with us,” said Temple. “You need to ask the right questions to influence the right thinking.”
The students broke into teams again for a garbage collection competition. After an hour of picking up litter around campus, the teams had collected more than 6,000 pieces of garbage, of which 4,315 were cigarette butts.
“I was surprised at the number of cigarette butts that were collected,” said Vanessa Hussain, an accounting student. “When we walk around every day we don’t pay that much attention, but when you really look, there are so many of them everywhere.”
The event was sponsored by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Certified Management Accountants, and Microsoft.
“We wanted to give students incentives to come to an environmentally focussed event. So we had food, fun activities, and a chance to network with our sponsors,” said Qian Dong, the VP Finance of Residence Council. “The goal of this event was for students to think about things they can do for the environment as students.”