October 21, 2002

Ivy Environmentalists Meet at C.U.

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About 100 students from Cornell, Brown, Columbia, and Princeton Universities, Dartmouth College and University of Pennsylvania met at Cornell this weekend for the fifth annual Greening of the Ivies conference. Organized by the Cornell Greens with help from other University groups, the conference brought together environmental leaders from each school to discuss issues and coordinate action.

The purpose of the convention, according to the Cornell Greens’ website, was “to collaborate as the students of the Ivy League, and unite our efforts in specific campaigns in order to make our voices louder.”

The conference kicked off on Friday afternoon with a promotional event with Ben and Jerry’s One Sweet Whirled campus tour. Handing out free ice cream samples and brochures, members of Cornell environmental organizations hoped the event would create buzz about the conference.

“Ben and Jerry’s, One Sweet World, they’re all big names, attention getters,” said Odette Mucha ’05, a conference organizer and member of the Cornell Greens.

Later that night, about 30 conference participants from Cornell met in the Kaufman Auditorium in Goldwin Smith to listen to Prof. Don Barr, city and regional planning, speak on coalition building.

Among other experiences, Barr described his memories of participating in the divestment activist movement against apartheid at Cornell. He described how both the students and faculty worked together during the protests.

“If you can get the faculty involved with the students, you’ve got a powerful coalition there. But I’ve found it’s hard as hell to get the faculty out there,” he said. “I believe on a college campus, building a movement is one of the hardest things you can do. This is a transient community.”

Conference participants seemed to appreciate the speech.

“It was really motivating … to know faculty at Cornell are along the same line as students,” said Joe Sambataro ’05, treasurer for the Society of Natural Resources Conservation.

On Saturday morning, conference organizers officially welcomed all of the participating schools, with help from Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services. After participants introduced themselves, Bria Morgan ’04, conference organizer and Cornell Greens member, described the purpose of the conference.

“We can accomplish a lot just by being who we are and where we go to school,” she said.

Later, Murphy explained the University’s support of the environmental movements.

“I applaud you for your advocacy work. We don’t always agree [on] how you do it … [but] at the heart [of it], you’re doing the right thing,” she said.

She then described a joint statement agreed upon by President Hunter R. Rawlings, the Cornell Greens and the Student Assembly, which pledged to improve the campus environment through a variety of actions. People from other environmental organizations agreed with Murphy’s support of the conference.

“Greening of the Ivies is a really terrific opportunity for student environmental leaders to harness the power and prestige of the Ivy League schools to work in collaboration for environmental victories,” said Frankie Lind ’01, the East Coast Field Organizer for Ecopledge.

The day continued with a series of nine workshops put together by various environmental organizations. They ranged from “Challenging Corporate Crime” by Casey Harrell of Greenpeace, to “Politics, Government and Environmentalism,” presented by Dan Lamb, executive aide to Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY).

Cornell students ran three of these workshops; the first, “Why Should You Go Tree-Free?” was a coordinated effort between Rainforest Action Network and Cornell Society for Natural Resources Conservation. Members of Kyoto Now! presented “Kyoto and Beyond: Tactics for Climate Change Activism,” while Dan Fireside grad and the Eco House organized a workshop on “Globalization and Fair Trade Coffee.”

“The workshops were excellent,” said Sarah Hackney, a freshman at Dartmouth. “It was very informal, and that way we really learned a lot.”

On Saturday evening, the keynote panel discussion on sustainability featured Prof. Robert Young, city and regional planning, Prof. Kathleen Whitlock, molecular biology and genetics, Lanny Joyce, manager of engineering planning and energy, Lind and current Cornell students.

Highlights included a speech made by Young and audience participation in the discussion, according to Morgan.

“[There were] lots of passionate questions,” she said.

The conference ended with a closing meeting yesterday morning where participants discussed the proposed Ivy League Environmental Coalition.

Organizers and attendees agreed that, overall, the conference went well.

“The conference rocked!” Morgan said.


Archived article by Shannon Brescher