The Student Assembly adopted a resolution urging administration to return to its original pledge of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 at its Thursday meeting.
Despite President Emeritus David Skorton’s support for the 2035 carbon neutrality goal, President Elizabeth Garrett has said that the University will not commit to the campaign.
“President Garrett’s words were that she didn’t want to draw a line in the sand,” said Elizebeth Chi ’18, one of the resolution’s sponsors. “By this point, there are 200 universities in the United States that have set target carbon neutrality dates within the next 20 years. Cornell doesn’t even make that cut, it’s kind of sad.”
Chi stressed that the S.A.’s proposal is not a radical one.
“We are just asking President Garrett to commit to a hard deadline of carbon neutrality by 2035 with the original timeline or with an alternate timeline, whatever it takes as long as we can reach that target date,” she said.
In response to questions about the costs of carbon neutrality, S.A. executive vice president Emma Johnston ’16 said the long term benefits must be considered when looking at the cost of such campaigns.
The administration’s reluctance to adopting Carbon Neutrality despite faculty participation in the United Nations 2015 Climate Change Summit is “embarrassing,”said S.A. vice president of internal operations Mitchell McBride ’17.
“We’re sending faculty over to Paris and having people say of our college ‘Why isn’t Cornell doing this? You’re supposed to be advocating on behalf of this but Cornell doesn’t even do this’” McBride said.
McBride urged Garrett to see Climate Neutrality as “creating knowledge.”
“President Garrett said, ‘The purpose of Cornell is to create knowledge.’ We need to be creating the knowledge of how to [reach the 2035 goal.] We need to show other universities and the entire U.S. how to do that,” McBride said.
In addition to the carbon-neutrality discussion, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student affairs, held a Q&A to provide him with student input before he starts the search for a new candidate to replace current dean of students Prof. Kent Hubbell ’69, architecture.
Lombardi said he came to have a conclusive conversation with students about their concerns and that he welcomed comments from anyone present.
When asked by Gabriel Kaufman ’18, S.A. undesignated at large representative to describe the search process, Lombardi said he would form a search committee “with very heavy student involvement.” Lombardi said he supports a very open process of looking for new candidates and would entertain suggestions from Cornell’s student body.
Matthew Stefanko ’16, S.A. vice president of finance, said that the new dean of students should be willing to communicate news of major decisions to students early on before they have already been made. He also suggested using the search process as an opportunity to restructure certain offices.
“The S.A. and the Office of Assemblies are directly below the vice president of community relations,” Stefanko said. “There’s, in my opinion, a huge conflict of interest between a huge group of people that is trying to send a certain message from Cornell and students who might frequently disagree with that message.”
Lombardi said he expects the new dean to be responsive to students.
“I would be asking [the new dean] to be very engaged with students and be present, be active, be listening, be open and be very transparent in those regards,” Lombardi said. “It’s an expectation of mine and that for me would be a metric of success for this position. If we don’t achieve that then we’re not doing something right.”