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

From: WWU STUDENTS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY 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


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