mtvU to Cover Student-Organized Divestment Event with Daily Gazette Editors

by Celina De Léon

Update, Mar.1: Nearly 200 students from more than 70 colleges and universities gathered at Swarthmore last weekend to discuss divestment from fossil fuel companies as part of the student-organized "Power Up!" event. The Daily Gazette's Max Nesterak '13 and Monika Zaleska '13 provided coverage of the weekend for mtvU's Campus Dispatch program.

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An estimated 150 students from across the country are expected on Swarthmore's campus this weekend for the student-organized event "Power Up! Divest Fossil Fuels." The gathering, for which the College is lending logistical support, is an opportunity for students who are working toward fossil fuel divestment in their campus communities to connect and strategize.

Co-editors of Swarthmore's Daily Gazette, Max Nesterak '13 of Williamstown, Mass., and Monika Zaleska '13 of Narberth, Pa., will report on Saturday for mtvU, MTV's college television network. Their coverage will then be prepared as a video segment by mtvU producers for the network's Campus Dispatch program, a student news show that covers issues of national importance for college audiences.

Filming for mtvU will occur in Science Center Commons, Science Center classrooms, Science Center Courtyard, Lang Center for the Performing Arts, Parrish Hall Parlors, and Parrish Beach. Community members who do not want to be filmed should take note of the schedule and avoid these areas, if possible. [Anyone who appears on camera will be asked to sign a release form from mtvU. If you do not wish to appear, you do not have to sign it and won't be included in the final piece.]

Keystone pipeline protest

Students attended last weekend's Forward on Climate rally in Wash., D.C., with support from the President's Office. (photo by Josh Peck '13)

Members of the Swarthmore College administration, faculty, and staff continue to be hard at work to achieve environmental sustainability on and off campus. A final draft is nearing completion on a Climate Action Plan that will guide the College's carbon neutrality efforts over the next couple of decades. President Rebecca Chopp's signing of the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2010 propelled the development of this plan for the College. Once it is available, it will be found on the Sustainability website.

Student-initiated "green" activities, with support from faculty and staff, are in abundance. On February 17, 60 students and faculty attended the "Forward on Climate" rally on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. to protest the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. If approved for construction, the pipeline would transport crude oil from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The State Department is expected to release a draft environmental impact assessment of the project. Two buses funded with support from the President's Office transported students and faculty to the rally.

The Ecosphere Coalition, led this year by Patrick Ammerman '14, the Lang Center Environmental sustainability intern, continues to bring together representatives from all the student groups across campus that are dedicated to environmental sustainability. The representatives from each of the groups meet once a month to share information on their activities. Ecosphere recently hosted an open meeting of all the environmental groups on campus to identify and discuss the implementation of goals they would like achieved on campus by the year 2020.

In addition, Swarthmore faculty from a variety of disciplines organized and participated in the first of a series of campus teach-ins on fossil fuel divestment. Speakers included Professor of English Literature Elizabeth Bolton, Morris L. Clothier Professor of Physics Peter Collings, Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change Giovanna Di Chiro, Associate Professor of Political Science Cynthia Halpern, Professor of Economics Mark Kuperberg, Centennial Professor of Economics Philip Jefferson, Lang Research Fellow and Visiting Professor George Lakey, Associate Professor of Sociology and Peace and Conflict Studies Program Coordinator Lee Smithey, and Professor of Religion Mark Wallace. Listen to the full discussion.

"Climate change is not an ideology, it's a fact. It's a reality. And how we deal with it has to deal with who we are and how we respond to crisis and to fear," Halpern said at the event. "I think colleges and universities have the capacity to make that case."

"I think what's going to happen, if you try to divest from fossil fuel companies, is their stock prices are not going to be affected at all because as they start to fall a little bit all these other less ethical investors are going to come to the conclusion, 'Hey! Exxon Mobil is a bargain. Let's buy some Exxon Mobil shares,' and the end result of that will be the share prices won't change," said Kuperberg. "What we should have is a carbon tax. We should tax carbon. That's the single best tax we could institute in the United States or in the world because it both raises revenue for the government, which as you may know needs it, and b, it attacks this externality."

To read about more efforts spearheaded by students, faculty, and alums to address climate change, please see the January 2013 issue of the Swarthmore College Bulletin focused on sustainability.