On Friday, Feb. 22, Carson Weisbord ’19 and Kíra Lancz ’21 submitted an open letter — which was signed by over 600 students — to President Sean Decatur calling for Kenyon to set forth a specific plan to reach the College’s 2016 commitment to carbon neutrality by 2040 and take other action concerning sustainability on campus.
While the letter commends efforts the College has made, such as installing solar panels on various buildings across campus, it emphasizes the fact that limited concrete plans have been laid out concerning how Kenyon will reach that goal.
“We don’t have specifics to justify the 2040 target,” Weisbord said. Kenyon has made several commitments to sustainability, but the letter speaks to frustration with the lack of active steps taken toward meeting those promises. “We’re trying to hold them accountable,” Lancz said.
The letter also emphasizes the importance of the College taking the responsibility of figuring out the details. “It’s not our job as students to figure these complex issues out,” Weisbord said. “This is the administration’s job, to make good on this pledge we’ve made.”
Though the original goal was 500 signatures, the letter collected over 600 signatures from several weeks of tabling in Peirce and all-student emails.
The two hope this petition will encourage the school to reach 100 percent renewable energy as well as take broader action to reach the 2040 carbon neutrality goal. They also hope that the letter will encourage Kenyon to provide more support for sustainability projects and improve the current energy efficiency of campus.
While both Weisbord and Lancz are interns with the Office of Green Initiatives (OGI), the open letter is not an OGI project. “It’s really a student driven idea,” said Weisbord. “We want to see it more as a student statement on sustainability”
They hope the open letter will encourage students to engage with sustainability at Kenyon more personally as well. “[We want to] create an atmosphere at Kenyon where [sustainability] is something we talk about,” said Lancz. They encourage Kenyon students to sign the open letter and get involved with environmental issues at Kenyon through the OGI sustainability forums and the upcoming IntersectECO conference in April on environmental justice.