The president’s climate commitment

Bruininks has signed onto a nationwide intitiative to address climate change.

I would like to congratulate the University and President Bruininks for becoming the first Big Ten signatory of the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment. This puts the University’s innovative sustainable efforts in the public eye as new debates are sparked on the creation of a centralized sustainability agenda and how it will correlate with the ACUPCC.

The ACUPCC is a high-visibility initiative of presidents and chancellors of higher education institutions to address climate change by taking actions to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and to integrate sustainability into their curriculum, giving tomorrow’s leaders the capacity to address climate change while serving as a role model to the rest of society. I applaud the University for taking time to be sure to act within the best interests of the institution and the state, rather than just blindly signing because the values seemed to be in the right place.

Over winter break, members of MPIRG, EcoWatch, Applied Environmental Solutions and the Will Steger Foundation organized a meeting between student leaders, key faculty and administration to discuss how the Presidents Climate Commitment will affect the University. It became clear that many sustainable actions are already being taken, such as practicing carbon trading through the Chicago Climate Exchange and establishing the new sustainability studies minor. Though we are already making the effort, the Presidents Climate Commitment provides a means of promoting cohesion among departments, opportunities for students to work with administration to direct future sustainability initiatives and recognition to make the University a national role model for its pursuit of climate change solutions.

This is just one of many victories for the University in the battle against climate change, and we must realize that the direction taken in the implementation process will define the future direction of this new initiative. The subject of discussion has diverted to how the ACUPCC can be used to most positively benefit the University. Students have the unique opportunity to partake in these discussions, and getting involved with an organization on campus can help students’ voices be heard.

Bridget Ulrich is a member of MPIRG and a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]