Students at Bowling Green State University Meet with President to Encourage Campus Transition to Clean Energy
At Bowling Green State University, our campus organization called the Environmental Action Group (EAG) has been working hard to get our President, Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey, and her Board of Trustees to commit to transitioning our campus to 100% clean energy such as wind, solar and geothermal. This started early in the semester when an ambitious plan was developed that included setting goals to compile student and faculty signatures on a petition, a day of action event to promote campus awareness of this campaign (we called it a Day for Clean Energy), and to have a meeting with President Mazey by the end of the semester.
To this date, we have collected over 2,000 signatures, the Day for Clean Energy event took place on November 15th and was a success contributing to over 400 signatures collected in one day, and the meeting with President Mazey was arranged for December 13th. Additionally, we have developed a coalition letter in which various student organizations can sign onto to show their support and we’ve reached out to the media to further communicate to the public about our goal of transitioning our university to 100% clean energy. Josh Chamberland, President of EAG, was interviewed on the campus Beyond Green radio talk show; Brooke Scarborough and Josh Chamberland were on the BG24 News that broadcasts campus wide; and I, Stephanie Noftz, have submitted a Letter to the Editor about our campaign to the campus newspaper, the BG News.
On Thursday, December 13th 2012 at 11:45am, 5 of us from the Environmental Action Group (including myself, Josh Chamberland, Brooke Scarborough, Madison Thomas, and Kaitlyn Trent) and our club advisor, Dr. Holly Meyers, met with our campus President to discuss our accomplishments this semester and our proposal for her to commit to developing an ambitious plan for transitioning our university to 100% clean energy. A binder containing the petition signatures we collected, the letters that students and faculty have hand written to President Mazey to encourage her and a summary of our campus’s energy usage were presented to President Mazey. Shortly thereafter, the banner addressed to President Mazey that supporters of 100% Clean Bowling Green have written words of encouragement on and a beautifully framed group photo of student activists from the Day for Clean Energy event was given to President Mazey to show the sincerely strong student support.
Although there is evident student and faculty encouragement for President Mazey to commit to building an ambitious timeline for transitioning our campus to clean, renewable energy, she declined to commit to this task. Her first statement about our campaign was that she holds no power to change where or how the university gets its energy since we buy it though the city of Bowling Green. President of EAG, Josh Chamberland, explained that the university is the largest energy client of Bowling Green and continued to show her the city energy graphs for 2015 to confirm this statement; this was first time that President Mazey has seen this kind of information.
Further into the discussion on why transitioning to clean, renewable energy is important to us, President Mazey demonstrated knowledge on alternative energy: stating that she’s previously lived in a house that was somewhat supported by geothermal energy and that presently she can see the BG wind turbines from her backyard.
However, President Mazey is a supporter of clean coal as an alternative, “clean” energy solution for the city in the coming years. Although we did not debate on the topic of clean coal, EAG does not believe clean coal is a viable option for renewable energy: clean coal production would still pollute the air, decreasing air quality and further add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.
During the meeting, President Mazey repeatedly drew the conversation back to the price concern associated with the transitioning to clean energy and the impact this would have on the students’ debt. She plans on updating and even tearing down and rebuilding some campus buildings to make them more energy efficient. This is her vision for how the university will lower its energy usage and expenses.
In the end, President Mazey was not comfortable committing to an energy transition plan and requested that a formal energy plan proposal be developed and presented to her at a later date. Dr. Meyers, professor and EAG club advisor, recommended student involvement in this proposal: possibly being related to a class project or the green fund program our university has established for financing sustainable initiatives. President Mazey supported this idea and further stated that she’d like for the BGSU facility and operations director, Brue Meyer, to be involved since he knows the most about the university’s energy usage.
As the meeting came to the end, we asked to arrange a follow up meeting to be held early in the Spring Semester of 2013. At this future meeting, the Environmental Action Group, EAG club advisor Dr. Holly Meyers, BGSU President Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey, and other professionals will be in attendance to further discuss future energy plans for the University.
We, the Environmental Action Groups, are strongly committed to making a 100% clean energy powered BGSU a possibility. We will continue to work closely with the media and other student organizations while collecting more student signatures on our petition to show further, growing support for transitioning BGSU to 100% clean energy.
It’s time to Roll Along to a 100% Clean Bowling Green!