42.3 F
Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Op-Ed: Western has opportunity to progress on social, climate change issues


Galen Herz, Co-President     

Shelby Kremenich, Co-President

Dear President Randhawa, Vice-President Swan, Vice-President Coughlin, Vice-President Van Den Hul, Vice-President Carbajal, and Vice-President Bowers,

Western has been given a tremendous opportunity to be a leader in combating climate change and building a clean energy future. Our campus has been offered a chance to join with other large energy purchasers in our region, such as Microsoft and Evergreen State College, to build a 75 megawatt wind farm in Washington. The energy the wind farm creates is attributed to the consumers who joined the partnership. If Western were to sign on, we would drop over a third of our annual 35,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.

Protecting the climate is a fulfillment of our community’s values. Western’s strategic plan states our university is to “serve as a model for institutional effectiveness, innovation, diversity, and sustainability”. People of color, Indigenous people, low-income communities, and countries in the Global South are least responsible for climate change and hardest hit by its effects. To honor our university’s commitment to racial justice and being a responsible member of the global community, we must take the initiative to curb our effect on climate change.

Puget Sound Energy (PSE), our energy provider, is the lead force to build the wind farm and calls the partnership the “Green Purchase Program”. To pay for the wind farm, our university’s utility bills will go up by roughly 5% according to John Furman, Director of Facilities Management of Western. This is a very low price to pay for what we get in return, a reduction of 130,000 tons of carbon over ten years (and a livable planet). We would be joining a cadre of other universities that have already built their own turbines: Whitman College, Luther College, University of Minnesota, American University, and George Washington University.

Last year during the Paris climate conference, 2,498 academics from 75 countries signed onto an open letter to our world leaders. We are proud to note that two WWU professors were among the signatories. The letter stated the urgency of the situation better than we possibly could:

“At the moment, even if countries meet their current non-binding pledges to reduce carbon emissions, we will still be on course to reach 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. This is profoundly shocking, given that any sacrifice involved in making those reductions is far overshadowed by the catastrophes we are likely to face if we do not: more extinctions of species and loss of ecosystems; increasing vulnerability to storm surges; more heatwaves; more intense precipitation; more climate related deaths and disease; more climate refugees; slower poverty reduction; less food security; and more conflicts worsened by these factors. Given such high stakes, our leaders ought to be mustering planet-wide mobilization, at all societal levels, to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Former Western President Bruce Shepard recognized the grave consequences of inaction when he signed the President’s Climate Commitment and directed Western to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The sooner we make progress on that goal, the better chance we have of protecting Earth and our futures on it. Joining this partnership would also keep Western in compliance with Washington State laws to reduce greenhouse gases, such as RCW 70.235.050.

We, undersigned concerned student leaders, staff, administration, and faculty of Western Washington University call upon you, our university’s leaders, to support Western’s involvement in PSE’s Green Purchase program to protect our climate. We anticipate PSE coming to Western by January 1st, 2017 with a Service Agreement to join the program, and we ask they be met with a unified campus in support.


Galen Herz, Co-President, Students for Renewable Energy

Shelby Kremenich, Co-President, Students for Renewable Energy

Anna Kemper, Director, Associated Students Environmental and Sustainability Programs

Sarah Sasek, Students for The Salish Sea Facilitator

Sam Schultz, President, Student Economics Association

Emma Bigongiari, Co-President, Students for Sustainable Food

Spencer Anthony-Cahill, Professor and Chair, Chemistry

Jill MacIntyre Witt, Instructor, Health and Human Development

Julia Henson, Associated Students Environmental Center Coordinator

Isaac Bartick, Associated Students Alternative Transportation Coordinator

Kamea Black, AS Outback Farm Coordinator

Keiko Betcher, Associated Students Sustainable Action Fund Education Coordinator

Adam Oberstadt, President, LEAD (Learning Environment Action Discovery)

Madeleine Jones, Vice President, Students for Renewable Energy

Henry Haro, Coordinator, Western Trail Corps

Rosa Rice-Pelepko, Officer, Students for Sustainable Food

Sami Wells, Intern, Associated Students Environmental Center

Amber Carrow, Work Study, Associated Students Environmental and Sustainability Programs

Thomas H. Tague, President, WWU Urban Planners Club

Victoria Matey, President, WWU Blue Group

Maria Prieto, Co-Founder, WWU Blue Group

Donna VanderGriend, Manager, Physics and Astronomy

Jasmine Rubert, SLP Clinical Educator, Communication Sciences & Disorders

  1. Scott Wilkinson, Instructional Lab Tech, Huxley College

Blanche Bybee, Manager of SMATE

Kathleen Nolan, Financial Aid Counselor

Melissa Koch, Instructor, Biology

Barbara Z. Rofkar, Professor Emerita, Anthropology

Josh Cerretti, Assistant Professor, History and WGSS

Stacey Maxwell, Program Coordinator, Chemistry Department

John Gilbertson, Associate Professor, Chemistry

Joan M. Hoffman, Professor, Spanish

Keith Hyatt, Professor, Special Education

David Carroll, Professor, Chair of Elementary Education

Sylvia Tag, Assistant Professor, Western Libraries

Suzanne Paola, Professor, English

  1. Clint Spiegel, Associate Professor, Chemistry

Nicholas Zaferatos, Professor, Environmental Studies

Christopher Loar, Associate Professor, English

Daniel Larner, Professor Emeritus, Theatre

Dietmar Schwarz, Associate Professor, Biology

Brooke Love, Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences

Kris Moore, Director of Studies, Intensive English Program, Extended Education

James Loucky, Professor, Anthropology

Barbara L. Miller, Professor, Art and Art History

Joy Wiggins, Senior Instructor, Elementary Education

Shirley Osterhaus, Professor Emerita, Fairhaven College

Wendy Wilhelm, Professor, Marketing

Mitchell Jancic, Senior Instructor, Elementary Education

Andrew Berget, Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Arunas Oslapas, Professor, Industrial Design

Janice Lapsansky, Senior Instructor, Biology

David Hooper, Professor, Biology

Margaret Mamolen, Physician, Student Health Center

Kathryn Trueblood, Professor, English

Cynthia Camlin, Associate Professor, Art

Maggie Barklind, Director of Student & Course Services, ExtEd

Frank Haulgren, Western Libraries, Facilities & Assessment

Katey Roemmele, Secretary, Recreation Program, Health and Human Development

David Leaf, Professor, Biology

Monique Kerman, Assistant Professor, Art and Art History

Suzann Finch, Program Coordinator, Financial Aid Department

Sean Bruna, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Katie Plewa Olvera, Adjunct Professor, Psychology  

Marion Brodhagen, Associate Professor, Biology

John McLaughlin, Associate Professor, Environmental Sciences


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Latest News

Local beer helps local salmon

Aslan’s new IPA is certified by Salmon-Safe Sammy the Salmon, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association’s mascot, holds up a six-pack...

More Articles Like This