A student-led environmental coalition looking to reduce carbon emissions from new dorms, increase the proportion of electric College-owned vehicles and create a new tree replanting policy at Kenyon held its first meeting on Nov. 6. With membership drawn from campus organizations such as Sunrise Kenyon and the Office of Green Initiatives (OGI), the group is looking to hold Kenyon leadership accountable with following through on ecologically friendly policy.
The environmental coalition, which is presently lacking an official name, was started by Max Fishman ’26 as a branch of All Student United, a group that seeks to address environmental and queer issues on campus. One of the coalition’s goals is to encourage the administration to enact concrete policy regarding environmental issues such as carbon emissions from new construction on campus. “We want to work with administration and present policy to show that students are involved and ensure that students want this,” Fishman said in an interview with the Collegian.
While the coalition’s leaders have met with student leaders throughout the semester to gauge interest, its first official meeting was held on Nov. 6, with about 10 attendees from All Students United, Sunrise Kenyon, Student Council, Environmental Campus Organization (ECO), OGI and the Buildings, Grounds and Sustainability Committee. According to Fishman, the primary goal of the initial meeting was to develop the coalition’s priorities, goals and expectations for the future. “To sum up, our goal is to pass policy on important issues starting with the decarbonisation plan, and to increase student voices in the administration,” they said. “We want policy written in stone.”
With a Board of Trustees meeting in February slated to discuss and ratify the school’s decarbonisation plan, Fishman emphasized that the coalition is looking to push policy that will be impactful in years to come. Specifically, it is looking to set a goal of no net carbon footprint increase with the construction of new buildings, to cease any destruction of the old grove forest and have new buildings be completely electric with geothermal heat. Another cornerstone component of the coalition’s plan enacts a one-to-one replanting policy that requires the school to plant one new tree for every tree torn down.
Student Council President and coalition member Marissa Sun ’25 emphasized the importance of putting environmentalism at the forefront of Kenyon’s policy. “I am a student who cares deeply about carbon neutrality and sustainability and believe this is an important part of Kenyon’s strategic plan,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I welcome anyone who is passionate to collaborate with ECO, Student Council, the Office of Green Initiatives and other campus and community partners on shared initiatives.”
Fishman mentioned that other components of the school’s infrastructure are also on the club’s radar, including the compost system utilized by Peirce Dining Hall, which the club hopes to replace with equipment that will reduce the time necessary to compost from multiple months to approximately 24 hours. Other potential smaller initiatives include three-sectioned trash receptacles and a permanent clothing swap area.
Ultimately, Fishman and other coalition attendees emphasized that the group is looking to both enact change at a policy level and empower the average student to find their voice regarding environmentalism. At a Nov. 30 meeting, students will have the opportunity to learn more about the organization and offer their own thoughts on the group’s preliminary ideas. “The idea with the forum is to not just tell people what we’re doing, but to have this be a public process. Both to gain support, and also say, ‘Hey, if you’re really interested, here are the different ways you can get involved,’” Fishman said.