People often pride OU on being environmentally friendly, but after BOT allowed a pipeline to be built, that’s inaccurate.
So, why the pipeline, Ohio University? I’m asking because I am utterly confused. That’s not unusual, by any means, but still: a gas pipeline? I often hear students bragging on campus about how sustainable OU is, and how we start great programs like RecycleMania, which is pretty awesome, and then (sigh), a pipeline happens (sigh).
This weekend at a Sierra Coalition retreat, I was introduced to students who told me how awesome it is that our administration works so hard to protect the environment. I wish I could have told them that that was the truth. But instead I told them how environmental activists in Athens face a battle to stop the pipeline that was recently passed at the OU Board of Trustees meeting. I didn’t brag, either.
I normally prefer not to gloat, but if this gas pipeline idea were shut down by the administration, I would be the first to say how great this school is. That is what I and other like-minded students want out of this university: leadership to be proud of, leadership that protects our futures and leadership that takes a moral stand and says there must be another way.
I want OU to acknowledge the Climate Action Plan as a last resort. That “carbon neutrality by 2075” plan isn’t a goal, but an admission of failure if the university honestly thinks it’ll take 60 years. This pertains to: a) the gas pipeline that will directly harm our campus and community, and b) the investments in fossil fuels.
Divestment from fossil fuels is a reality that must be faced, and some schools in California are already facing this issue. A private institution in Ohio has started making changes and is acknowledging that this is a human rights issue. The University of Dayton Board of Trustees unanimously approved to begin divesting from fossil fuels.
OU’s administration should start following the example of Dayton’s trustees. They can make divestment and carbon neutrality a reality in the Midwest. Should we do it for the sole purpose of showing how great our school is? No. It should be done because OU cares about the environment and won’t stand for exploiting the Earth and the people who inhabit it. If that isn’t enough, then go ahead and do it so OU can say they did it first in Ohio. I know I’ll still be proud.
The fight for the environment shouldn’t have to be a grassroots campaign, but right now that is where the leaders are in Athens. I admire every Athens community member that fights for the environment. I hope one day I can say the same about the paid administrators of this university.
Grant Stover is a sophomore studying English, a member of the Environmental Committee on Student Senate and a member of the Sierra Coalition at Ohio University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter at @grant_stover.