The issue that provoked a seven-person sit-in Wednesday turned many heads yesterday as it grew into a larger protest. Members of the Kyoto Now! movement camped outside of Day Hall in an effort to persuade the University to comply with its demands to help halt global warming.
Kyoto Now! is a subdivision of the Cornell Greens and a branch of the national organization, which supports fulfillment of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty signed by most major nations. The U.S., however did not sign the 1997 treaty.
The group is asking that, by 2004, Cornell reduce green house emissions by seven percent from 1990 levels.
“We share the same general goals,” Dullea said. “The problem is being required to make a commitment to a specific target in a specific year without full knowledge of what is entailed. To do this properly you need not only a slogan, but [knowledge of] what the carbon dioxide emissions were in 1990 and today and what they would be in 2004. … Neither the students nor faculty have this information.”
Protester Lindsay Saunders ’03 countered Dullea’s statement by saying that Henry Doney, director of facilities, is currently working to derive carbon dioxide emissions.
Wednesday’s non-violent sit-in lasted three hours. It ended with the arrest of Doug Kirsch ’00, and the issuance of appearance tickets to the Judicial Administrator to Emily Cikanek ’04, Craig Fasullo ’02, Jennie Heinlin ’04, Charlie Israel ’04, Lindsey Saunders ’03 and Dorothy Stowe ’04.
Despite the reprimand, Kyoto Now! bit back with numbers. According to Stowe, yesterday’s demonstration in front of Day Hall was a larger event which showed the world that Cornell students support the Kyoto Protocol.
“We want to make sure we maintain a presence here,” Stowe said. “We have a lot of energy today and a lot of people who are not involved with the campaign joined us.”
Tim Reem, an Earth First official, was among those to join the group. He spoke with the protesters about methods of non-violent protest.
Later in the afternoon, Howard Zinn, last night’s Bailey Hall speaker, offered words of encouragement as did Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo (The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo), a group of women protesters from Argentina lobbying the government for acknowledgment of their disappeared sons. They visited the site Wednesday night after speaking on campus.
“[Zinn told us] to have faith in small actions because they really can make an impact,” Stowe stated. “It was really inspiring.”
The demonstrators said that they are practicing non-violence because they wanted to maintain positive relations with administration.
Though Susan Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services, refused to sign the Kyoto Now! petition, students moved at her request to permit parents and prospective students visiting for Cornell Days to pass.
“The students have been very peaceful, cooperative and accommodating as protesters,” Murphy said. “I do not sense any problems due to Cornell Days.”
Stowe, however, feels otherwise. “It is clear the administration is agitated because we are doing this during Cornell Days,” she said.
According to Dullea, the protest may attract new students to the University.
“Prospective students will see Cornell students engaged politically and socially,” he said. “They will see a place where free expression is respected.”
Protesters indeed felt that the Cornell Days visitors were responsive and eager to listen to their cause.
“The people I’ve talked to have been very supportive,” said Sid Lourdes, an Ithaca resident and a participant in the Kyoto Now! movement. “The tours acknowledged us as a highlight of being a student at Cornell because you can take action.”
According to Stowe, Kyoto Now! has been attempting to take action since February when negotiations with the administration began. This week’s decision to protest was a result of the University’s refusal to observe the requests made in the Kyoto Now! petition at this time.
“We feel that they just keep saying the same things,” Stowe said. “If we accept more time, it is just like we are accepting ‘no.'”
“It is imperative that the University prioritize the Protocol’s requests,” Frankie Lind ’01 agreed. “That information [the carbon dioxide statistics] is irrelevant. The University will still be able to operate under the requests and it is unacceptable to consider numbers right now.”
Both administrators and protesters agree that Cornell is a leader among universities.
“If we [Cornell] make this decision, other universities will follow,” said Stowe.
Dullea stated that Cornell has already made strides towards reducing energy use under the Lake Source Cooling project, the reconstruction of the heating systems in many buildings on campus and the efforts to install more long-life bulbs in campus lampposts.
The administration has not changed its stance towards Kyoto Now! since Wednesday, when Harold Craft Jr., vice president for administration, released his statement stating the administration’s position, said Dullea.
In its meeting yesterday afternoon, the Student Assembly officially passed its resolution supporting the Protocol and urging the University to do the same.
As of yesterday afternoon, members of Kyoto Now! plan to continue their protest by holding a large rally in front of Day Hall in addition to their smaller rally during the afternoon where protesters sang songs and listened to speeches given by professors who support the movement.
“They [the administration] would love it if we fizzled out over the summer, but we are going to continue to build energy and promote our cause,” said Stowe.
Archived article by Maggie Frank