This past week Renew Wellesley organized a student campaign to raise awareness about renewable energy among Wellesley Students. Unite for Wellesley called on students to gather to raise their voices against non-renewable energy use on campus.
Renew Wellesley is a student led movement which started in spring of 2018. The movement was in response to the operation failure of a power plant on campus that is Wellesley College’s main source of electricity and heat. The power plant was responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions on campus.
As a response to the failing power plant, Wellesley College administration organized a committee to deliberate on how to spend the available funds on repairing the power plant and also to decrease Wellesley College’s reliance on non-renewable energy. This committee, Power4Women was responsible for discussing the different dimensions of this issue and finding the most feasible solution to be implemented at Wellesley College. In October 2018, the Office of the President Paula Johnson sent a campus-wide email, informing students about the committee and the College’s commitment of $24 million to enhance the committee’s plans further. The Sustainability Plan of the committee was projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electricity use and costs, increasing the reliability of the College’s electricity supply and plans to expand renewable energy in the future.
The Renew Wellesley Initiative was pivotal to exacerbating the administration’s commitment to renewable energy. They have worked to increase awareness about the importance of Wellesley College’s commitment to renewable energy. According to founding member Anna Beyette ’21, ”Renew Wellesley has taken a firm stance since its creation on the importance of Wellesley’s Administration setting a goal for committing to 100 percent renewable energy usage by the year 2040. We have written petitions, met with President Johnson and other Trustees, as well as gotten student seats on both the Power4Women Committee as well as it’s continuation committee, E2040.”
The event, which was held on April 26, Unite for Renewables extended their invitation to other organizations, giving them a chance to support this burgeoning issue on campus and express their affirmation with it. The event had speakers from organizations such as Girl Up, EnAct and the Eco Reps as well as a performance by the Fiddleheads. Founding member Beyette ’21 described this event saying, “This is a highly intersectional issue and our time horizon to begin creating positive and substantial change is very short. The time for action is now, and Wellesley needs to commit to making strong and ambitious goals. Wellesley proudly places an emphasis on raising the next generation of leaders, so it is time that Wellesley is a leader in investing in the next generation by reducing the college’s environmental impact.”
Earlier this month, on April 21, EnAct, another sustainability organization on campus, which regularly organizes events promoting environmental protection and sustainable energy practices, released a video on Youtube. The video featured students and faculty giving their input as to why Wellesley College must establish and promote renewable energy resources on campus. Environmental science professor Jay Turner said, “The energy market is changing so quickly. Wellesley has a chance to be a leader, position itself to take advantage of the changes in technology and markets going forward. They need to do this because it [is good for people’s health], it is an important social justice issue and it positions the College for long-term sustainability.” Professor Matthes of the philosophy department elucidated, “We should be leaders among Colleges in addressing the challenges of climate change.”
Wellesley College has solidified its position on this issue by establishing a a follow-up committee, E2040, to further study the college’s renewable energy practices and devise a plan to improve their productivity. The purpose of the committee, which also seats student representatives, is to advise the College on how to streamline its energy productivity and to oversee the implementation of the plans of the Power4Women committee.