This month we run an op-ed from DU student Maddy Gawler. Ms. Gawler is involved with Divest DU which we cover this issue. Ms. Gawler is also the co-president of DU Solar. We …
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This month we run an op-ed from DU student Maddy Gawler. Ms. Gawler is involved with Divest DU which we cover this issue. Ms. Gawler is also the co-president of DU Solar. We found her spirited submission exceedingly engaging.
By Maddy Gawler, University of Denver Sophomore, co-president, DU Solar; external coordinator, Divest DU
University of Denver, known for study abroad, great sports teams, stunning architecture, and motivated students. The one thing it isn’t known for is being environmentally friendly.
With a $650 million endowment that has investments in fossil fuel companies, new buildings that are not LEED Platinum certified and a lack of renewable energy on campus, the University of Denver is creating one massive carbon footprint its students are not happy about. As a result, two campus organizations have formed to demand change on campus.
Divest DU was founded in January of 2014 by a group of motivated students concerned about the future of the world’s climate system. They chose to attend the University of Denver partially due to the institution’s mission to be a “great private University dedicated to the public good,” yet they found the school’s continued investment in and support of the fossil fuel industry to be irreconcilable with this mission.
Believing it is the role of universities to be moral leaders, the group set off to encourage the University of Denver to reinvest their endowment in a socially acceptable manner. Less than two years after Divest DU started its work, DU stepped up to become one of the eight leading campuses in the nation fighting against climate change.
After two years, numerous meetings, petition signatures, events and endorsements, the University of Denver’s Board of Trustees finally agreed to meet with students to hear their case. On Thursday, April 14, five leaders of Divest DU presented to the University of Denver Board of Trustees at their biannual meeting. These students were successful in raising the Board’s awareness of the issues that have ignited student action. The result was the creation of a task force in June, 2016. The task force is made up of board members who assemble frequently to listen to specialists’ opinions on the concerns put forth by Divest DU. In January, the task force will bring the information gathered to the DU Board of Trustees meeting and the assembled Board will make a final decision as to whether they will divest their endowment.
Divest DU has made monumental progress in their campaign the past 2 1/2 years but are not the only organization pushing for change on campus.
DU Solar is another student organization pushing for change on campus. With only one year under its belt, this new club is working on all sides of the spectrum.
They began their fight with petitions meant to garner student support for renewable energy on campus. In its first year, DU Solar collected over 1,000 signatures from tabling events and succeeded in increasing community awareness of the club.
Several initiatives are currently underway. To date, DU Solar is:
Partnering with the DU Sustainability Committee to create a program in which five off-site solar panels will be purchased per year to offset a small portion of the University of Denver’s annual energy usage.
Working with Campus Safety to have the Blue Light Safety System be solely solar powered.
Partnering with DU Facilities to encourage the purchase of solar-powered golf carts.
Working with administration to install physical solar panels on buildings around campus.
What’s more, DU Solar recently started a penny campaign to encourage student donations which will provide the buying power for energy sources on campus. The goal is to show administration DU students are financially invested in renewable energy.
Divest DU and DU Solar students are clearly motivated to change their school’s energy usage from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Both of these student organizations are creating positive movements on their campus. The millennials are popularly derided as lazy, unmotivated, technology-obsessed individuals, but these students are proving that this generation will make history.
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