April 16, 2001

Administrators Meet Today on Kyoto Now!

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Kyoto Now! — students sitting, sleeping and operating daily demonstrations outside of Day Hall since last Wednesday — are planning a rally to coincide with what some believe will be a major meeting with University administrators today.

The rally, Kyotopalooza, will begin at 4 p.m. to coincide with the discussions taking place inside Day Hall, which are scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

“I believe [today’s] negotiations are the crucial ones,” said David Unger ’02, who has helped Kyoto Now! prepare for the discussions. “We are close, and something has to tip the scales one way or another.”

“I believe an agreement will be reached [today],” Unger said last night.

The key divergence between the administration and Kyoto Now! supporters lies in wording emphasizing the extent of Cornell’s effort toward emission reduction goals. Administrators expressed a commitment to work toward the goals, while protesters want it explicitly stated that goals will be reached.

Currently, protesters are asking for a reduction of seven percent below 1990 emission levels by 2008, with noticeable progress by 2005. The protesters have been collecting signatures endorsing the Kyoto Now! campaign since Wednesday.

According to Undesignated Representative Michael Bronstein ’02, the 15 members of the Student Assembly who previously supported the University’s more vague position of working toward the goals, have now officially committed to support the protesters’ wording. Bronstein confirmed that these 15 members support what Kyoto Now! members will argue for in today’s meeting with the administration.

“It is imperative that the University commit to a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Frankie Lind ’01.

Should such progress be made, ending a six day-long protest, it will be done without the presence of Harold D. Craft, Jr., vice president for administration and chief financial officer.

Craft issued the statement last week that detailed the University’s position on the Kyoto Protocol, one that demonstrated support for the cause but declared no commitment to specific goals for reducing greenhouse emissions.

“I think that the biggest disadvantage is that Vice President Craft will be on his cell phone [during the discussions],” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services.

Craft is returning to campus tomorrow, Murphy said, but there are no formal discussions planned between the administration and the Cornell Greens after today. Murphy hoped that such discussions would not be necessary.

“Hopefully we can find some resolution,” Murphy said.

Many students also hope that they will reach an agreement by tomorrow.

“We understand what a challenge it is for the University to do this. All of this commitment would be consistent with the University obligations for research, education and outreach,” Lind said.

As Craft stated last week, University officials maintain their hesitation from a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol standards, because there are no guidelines for what the repercussions will be.

Additionally, Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations pointed out that the standards established in 1997 were for nations, not for universities.

Also a cause of some hesitation are the extensive construction and renovation projects expected to take place in coming years. The implications of such projects with respect to carbon dioxide emissions are, as of yet, unknown.

“We take commitment seriously. Where we make a commitment, we usually know what we are committing to,” Dullea said.

Despite the limited understanding of the potential effects that would follow from a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, Dullea would not rule out that decision as a viable one.

Depending on the result of today’s discussions, however, Dullea said that a commitment to achieving the environmental initiative may result in cutbacks with other University commitments.

“The University has many different objectives that its trying to achieve at the same time,” Dullea said. “I’ve heard students outside of Day Hall say it is just a case of money.”

“No. It is not just a case of money,” he said.

Members of the Cornell Greens have discussed possible actions toward these goals throughout the semester with administrators, culminating in the announcement that inspired the current protests outside of Day Hall.

The students — numbering between 20 and 30 throughout the weekend — have been drawing on the assistance of supporters and friends on campus for getting class work, and meeting other responsibilities.

The site, called Kyoto village by protesters, has been constantly occupied, with sporadic music and chanting of Kyoto Now! slogans. The students have also been getting food donations from dining hall staff.

“They have been extraordinarily polite and respectful of the business that needs to be done around Day Hall,” Murphy said. “The [Cornell Days campus] tours have gone off without a problem.”

Since last Wednesday, when Emily Cikanek ’04 and six other students entered Day Hall intent on reaching an agreement with Cornell to undertake a major environmental initiative, Cikanek has returned to her house for one day for four hours of sleep.

“No matter what happens, we have activated the activists on campus,” said Cikanek. “If nothing more, we’ve at least gotten them [the University administration] to recognize the importance of the Kyoto Protocol.”

Murphy spoke with the students outside of Day Hall yesterday and on Saturday.

“I would like them to be healthy and finishing their class work,” she said, since poor weather is expected for the week and final exams are approaching.

“I think we have the support that is going to be here no matter what the conditions,” said Moss Templeton ’03.

–Matt Hirsch contributed to this story

Archived article by Stacy Williams