Students pose the ‘campus climate challenge’ at Whitman

by Katie Collier

Whitman’s Renewable Energy Club has joined a national movement of over 315 campuses in a campaign called the Campus Climate Challenge that encourages colleges and universities to address global warming issues and reduce their environmental footprint.

Senior Juliana Williams has been leading the Renewable Energy campaign on campus for the past few years and has worked with a small group of people to encourage change at the college administrative level. This year she felt the need to expand her mission to a the more comprehensive format of the Campus Climate Challenge: “We’re looking to start a ‘movement’ here because this change can’t happen with just a few individuals. This is probably our generation’s largest challenge. So many people don’t know what they can do about it or if they can do anything about it.”

Williams emphasized the value of activism in the area of global warming given the political climate of today: “Its time for us to take over because the political situation is such that legislation is getting nowhere.”

The Campus Climate Change campaign will focus on both long-term and intermediate goals. Williams explained, “Ultimately, we’re aiming to get Whitman to use 100% renewable energy. We know this will not happen immediately, but we want to be working with the administration in developing a long-term plan.”

In the meantime, Williams outlined several intermediary goals to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and expand Whitman’s renewable energy use.

One potential plan is to give students the option of choosing an “energy plan” along with their meal plan. Students would have the option of paying for a certain amount of renewable energy to be run in their rooms.

Another intermediate goal that the campaign is considering this year is an “alternative gifts plan.” Parents and friends would be able to purchase renewable energy for Whitman students and faculty rather than giving them the traditional gifts of clothing, music, etc.

President George Bridges has apparently expressed interest in another plan to revise Whitman’s Environmental Principles, a set of bylaws that determine under what circumstances the college will pay for environmentally friendly practices. Campus Climate Challenge hopes these revisions will result in a more proactive policy.

Students involved in the campaign this year will help draft the long-term plan alongside the Whitman administration. They will also be working regularly at devising and implementing the proposed intermediate measures. Williams commented, “I would like to see all of these intermediate measures implemented by the end of this year and going into effect as soon as possible.”

A final component of the Climate Challenge will be educating the student body and faculty on issues of global warming and easy steps they can take in their own lives to cut consumption of energy.

Students meet on Fridays at 2:00 p.m. in the Reid coffeehouse. Students interested in the campaign are welcome to attend or may contact Williams at williajm@whitman.edu.

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