Students, faculty and community members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison plan to demand stronger environmental policies with a campus climate strike on a day of global action.
Campus Leaders for Energy Action Now and co-sponsors will host a rally at Library Mall at 12 p.m. Friday to demand specific university actions against climate change. Organizers will collect signatures for a clean energy petition, which calls Chancellor Rebecca Blank and the administration to commit to power the university exclusively with renewable energy by 2050 and derive all electrical power from renewable resources by 2030, according to a press release.
While CLEAN’s original goal was to transition entirely to renewable energy by 2030, conversations with administrators helped create a standard that is both challenging and realistic, said CLEAN executive board member Cara Nastali.
“I’m really excited to see students show up. I hope it’s informational,” Nastali said. “I don’t know that every student knows about where our energy comes from on campus, and I think it’s super important that there’s that knowledge out there.”
Colleges and universities are significant energy users and influential institutions in their communities, the petition says, and action at UW-Madison will “set an example for the rest of the nation” to move toward cleaner, renewable energy sources.
The petition also asks that the Sustainability Advisory Council open up meetings to increase student involvement and representation, as well as have a concrete action plan to reach these goals by the end of January 2021.
“We think administrators can handle making these decisions and trust them to be able to, but it’s very important for student voices to be heard,” Nastali said. “Based on our research, the great majority of students we have spoken to are excited and want renewables.”
The council currently includes one student representative from ASM and representatives from the Wisconsin Alumni Association, UW Foundation and across campus. The Office of Sustainability has not yet finalized the council’s membership but is open to expanding student representation, according to an email from the office. It added that the Council’s meetings and listening sessions will be open to the public.
The petition also cites findings that UW-Madison ranks behind other Big Ten schools in the Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System. In October, the university announced it had received a silver rating in its first STARS report.
Students will deliver the petition to Blank’s office the week following the strike.
“The demands enumerated by CLEAN align with existing campus priorities, including sustainability, efficiency, cost savings, and social justice,” the Office of Sustainability said. “The Chancellor looks forward to cultivating deeper student involvement in addressing these priorities together.”