On April 21, EnAct and the Wellesley chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) organized a crochet-in, “Crochet4Climate,” to support on-campus climate initiatives. Started off by a performance by The Blue Notes, the event consisted primarily of crocheting but also speeches by Fridays for Future Wellesley organizer Ken Batts and EnAct Co-President Suzanna Schofield ’24 and a performance from student band Scuba Kitty. While EnAct and YDSA organized this event in part to increase discussions on campus about climate action, it was primarily intended to be a demonstration.
Meghana Lakkireddy ’25, one of the YDSA co-chairs, explained the purpose of the event, “We’ve been planning it for a few months now. It was just supposed to be an illustration to the Board of Trustees and also the campus community as a whole that the student body on campus really does care about sustainability and climate issues because we’ve kind of felt that it’s kind of been pushed to the backburner by administration.”
While Lakkireddy and Schofield feel like there is not as much discussion now as there was during the 2020–21 academic year, when there was a divestment student initiative, they both believe that there is still student support.
“[It is] not that the students aren’t talking about [climate action and sustainability], but that the administration believes the students aren’t talking about it. …,” Schofield said. “The school’s administration tends to believe that students don’t care and are just not worth the time of teaching sustainability programs.”
Of the climate action recommended on campus, Schofield and event attendee Liz Huang ’24 emphasized divestment from fossil fuels. During the 2020–21 academic year, the College released a plan to become carbon-neutral by 2040, which includes reducing overall fossil fuel use for heating and cooling and prohibiting new investments in fossil fuels. However, Schofield explained that divestment from fossil fuels remains a troubling issue for the College.
“The real reason why YDSA and EnAct started talking is that waste management is a huge issue at this school and people don’t know how to recycle or compost, and that’s not to even talk about what’s happening behind the scenes, but that students don’t know what’s going on in regards to sustainability …,” she said. “Divestment is concerning, our portfolio’s [fossil fuel] exposure increased by [about] 20 million dollars in the past year, and so that meant our exposure increased to 4.1 percent, which is a lot! A year ago, it was 2.9 [percent], and we’re seeing that at the face of literal energy crises in most of the world, let alone in the United States [where] people had to decide between getting groceries or going to their work.”
EnAct and YDSA believe that divestment and other action items featured in Schofield’s speech need to be undertaken by the College. Maeve Galvin ’25, the other YSDA co-chair, said that Schofield’s speech was an important moment to focus on the intentionality of the event and to restate what is expected of the College. Galvin also noted that the speech alongside the other performances affirmed the idea that there can be joy and appreciation alongside seriousness in activism.
“[Schofield’s speech] partnered with Scuba Kitty … added a good mixture of the seriousness of why we’re here and the importance and the weight on our shoulders for what this means, and then also a celebratory time …,” Galvin said. “It was also a gorgeous day, so we can appreciate our Earth, on this Earth weekend, and appreciate each other and have this moment and pause for why we’re here and what we wanna do.”
Galvin, Schofield and Lakkireddy all emphasized the importance of community. Lakkireddy mentioned that the Knitty Committee, another student organization, helped teach some attendees how to crochet, which was an affirmation of community to her.
“It was just really beautiful to see. … It was one of the moments at Wellesley where I feel like I’d very tangibly seen people being intentional about community and taking time to connect with each other and, I don’t know, crochet is something that is such a sweet act,” Lakkireddy said. “Seeing people pass the craft on in the name of sustainability and the cause we’re fighting for was really cool to see.”
Through the initial event, Huang said that the organizers centered “taking activism slowly” and creativity in activism.
“The organizers did a really great job centering art and creativity and self-care and I love the final event as it came together because I think it did a really great job, you know, uplifting students and energizing them at a time where everyone feels really tired and finals are coming up,” said Huang.
Galvin, Lakkireddy and Schofield were clear that they, and their organizations, have also been involved in some of the more traditional kinds of activism and advocacy, such as having discussions with administration and, for the event, writing a letter to the Board of Trustees. This letter contained an invitation for the Board of Trustees to attend the crochet-in, a list of practices and policies that YDSA and EnAct strongly suggest the College adopt and a list of signatures. In response to this letter, the secretary of the Board of Trustees suggested contacting Dean Sheilah Shaw Horton with students’ concerns, and did not address the contents of the letter.
The three organizers are not done advocating for sustainability on campus. A week after the initial event, there was another event to stitch the crochet squares into a banner while watching “The Lorax.” Schofield mentioned that the community support demonstrated by student participation in sustainability events is uplifting to them.
“To see everyone kind of come together at the event and to see people walk up on the field behind College Club and to sit on blankets [and] join the music or join in crocheting or sing along to ‘If I Were a Fish’ — which is an excellent song … I was obsessed when Scuba Kitty did it — … that was really special to me,” she said. “A lot of the meetings we’ve been having have been really long and really tedious, and so to be like, ‘Oh, but the community supports this’ and like, ‘The community’s always supported this’ … is always really nice.”