Students form nucleus for sustainability alliance

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Melissa Osgood
sustainability alliance meeting
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Courtney Koelbel '15, representing Cornell University Sustainable Design, reads suggestions Dec. 6 on possible governance procedures in the developing sustainability alliance.

Passionate about strengthening sustainability, battling climate change and improving a polluted world, Cornell students packed a large Warren Hall meeting room Dec. 6 to begin forming an alliance of more than three dozen campus sustainability groups.

Over 100 students from across campus representing about 40 clubs congregated to contemplate strategy to link groups under one umbrella organization. “Our main purpose is uniting the [large variety of sustainability] clubs … We have already a huge presence on campus, so there’s something to be said about collective organizing,” said Emma Johnston ’16, co-president of Cornell Sustainability Hub.

Organizers of the new sustainability alliance discussed governance, the resources it may provide, how the group will help engage with nonmember students and a framework for communications. As individual clubs focus on various projects, the umbrella group – similar in scope to a sustainability congress, with representatives from each club – intends to organize itself by holding meetings and communicating with each other via social media.

“Right now, there is not a strong force bringing students interested in solving environmental issues together on campus. Without one, we’re limiting collective student engagement on campus and we’re limiting the strength of students involved in the issues,” said Johnston. “I am so excited about today’s strong turnout. Over a hundred people came to this meeting on a Saturday … during finals. The best part is that I know there are more students who want to participate than are here in this room.”

In a meeting early next semester, the group will begin to collect signatures, a first step toward byline funding from the Cornell Student Assembly and its appropriations committee. The organizers hope to receive byline funding from the assembly by the spring 2016 semester.

Student organizers of the group, temporarily calling itself CUnite: Creating a Student Alliance for Environmental Solutions, run a Facebook page to announce meetings and to place notices.


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Blaine Friedlander