Student Union Senate approves environmental improvements, changes
The Student Union Senate unanimously approved a resolution supporting clean renewable energy on Sunday Oct. 19, encouraging further research into the means of its implementation. This resolution was brought forth by two board members of Students for Environmental Action (SEA): Lindsay Farnsworth '05, Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator, and Beckett Horowitz '05, General Coordinator of SEA.
According to Executive Senator and Senator for the Class of 2005, Erica Lemansky '05 , every Senator present at the meeting supported the resolution.
Lemansky said the Senate decided to pass it for a variety of reasons.
"As elected representatives of the student union, one of our responsibilities is to advocate for student initiatives and offer support in both club and individual endeavors," Lemansky said.
"This resolution is a percent example of a situation in which the senate was given the opportunity to support something we truly believed would be beneficial to the entire Brandeis community. In passing the resolution, we not only showed our feelings that it is a worthwhile cause, but also offered out assistance in the future of SEA in their efforts to bring environmental reform to Brandeis."
Members of SEA came up with this resolution since last year.
"I had an idea to do this because we were working on a Talloires Declaration last year and the year before, and a lot of universities all over the world signed this to adopt more sustainable practices," Horowitz said.
Horowitz said SEA was working on modifying the Talloires Declaration, which she describes as the first international declaration that was adopted by university administrators in 1990 to take responsibility for their energy uses, stop global climate change and promote better environmental practices at their respective universities.
She said many schools in the Boston area signed the declaration since 1990, but Brandeis would not sign.
Last year, Horwitz said that SEA tried to change the focus on the declaration that was presented to Brandeis.
They changed the focus by advocating ways members of the Brandeis community could sustain energy.
Horowitz said some of the ways SEA emphasized to Brandeis included using a cloth bag instead of plastic bags when buying food at the C-Store, shutting off a computer if it was going to be not used within a few hours, and simply enjoying nature by taking a walk.
Farnsworth said this summer gave her the chance to conduct further research on drafting the resolution.
"I ended up getting a Fellowship through Envirocitizen that allowed me to research this," Farnsworth said.
She said Envirocitizen is an environmental and youth leadership non-profit organization located in four cities in the United States: Boston, Seattle, Denver and Washington D.C.
According to Horwitz, this organization promotes social and climate justice, especially for low income people who expose themselves to hazardous air.
Part of the resolution is attributed to the fact that low income people expose themselves to hazardous air.
"An overwhelming amount of evidence has also revealed that low-income and non-white populations are disproportionately exposed to health and environmental hazards such as landfills, polluting industrial facilities, incinerators, power plants, and hazardous waste sites," Farnsworth said.
A variety of sources ranging from national census findings to privately funded health surveys point to a need for policies that address this disparity and the consequences it has generated.
Now that the resolution was passed, SEA has many projects in mind for the future.
"We'd like to present a proposal to the university, asking that they purchase a certain percentage of clean energy, and commit to higher energy efficiency standards in new construction and renovations," Farnsworth said.
"When (Brandeis) builds their new buildings, the different materials they use should be more environmentally friendly and less harmful to the environment" Horowitz said.
In addition, Horowitz said SEA is in the process of labeling trees on campus with their common name, Latin name and fun facts about the trees.
A plaque with all this information will be posted on the trees.
They both said they want to go beyond the university with this resolution.
Horowitz said that she hopes every member of the Brandeis community can sway the Governor Mitt Romney to promote clean energy.
She is currently working to get every Brandeis student to send postcards to Romney emphasizing the importance of clean energy throughout Mass.
Farnsworth said the resolution adopted by the Senate was rather general.
"We are currently doing a cost-benefit analysis to make a more comprehensive resolution," Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth said she felt this resolution adopted by the Senate was rather general because there are social, economic, and political reasons for green building and implementing clean renewable energy.
Farsnworth also said SEA needs to discover if they will receive grants from inside or outside Brandeis to execute the projects they have in mind because it would cost the university money to hire consultants to investigate all the issues surrounding green building and clean energy.
Farnsworth and Horowitz felt it was important that the Senate passed it.
"The passing of the resolution was important because it gives the initiatives an added credibility ... by having the backing of the Senate, hopefully this campaign will stand out," Farnsworth said.
Most of the progress made in clean energy and energy efficiency is being done at the local and state levels, by institutions and universities," Farnsworth said. "I believe that progressive institutions like universities are at better positions for these initiatives because they are likely to invest in the future,"
Farnsworth also said she hopes the change Brandeis makes will be a stepping stone for bigger change.
"I think this issue is important for Brandeis because these issues aren't making headway in the national and international arena," Farnsworth said.
As well as the resolution's importance, passing it has brought much discussion to Senate and SEA.
"I think resolutions like this one are great. They show Brandeis students taking a proactive role in enhancing the environment in which we live," Lemansky said.
"It is really exciting to have the endorsement of the Student Senate and we hope to incorporate different parts of campus in the process, and that I hope this will make SEA more visible since we are finally trying to affect real change," Farnsworth said.
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