Environmental Coalition/Courtesy Photo
Last Tuesday, The Bates Student met with Gabrielle Brewer ’23, an environmental studies major and one of Bates’ Environmental Coalition (EC) presidents. Over the past year, EC has been working on drafting a Climate Emergency Declaration. This declaration is a list of actions that EC believes will help Bates function in a more sustainable, equitable manner.
The declaration is divided into the following categories: sustainability, equity and inclusion, academic education, and campus life. Their goal is to have Bates sign-on and address each one of their concerns over the next ten years.
The declaration has a section regarding environmental policies on campus. This includes a proposal on investing in solar panels. Another section focuses on “campus climate.” In this section, there is mention of providing more outdoor spaces for students and better access to health services such as CAPS. Another one features an academic critical race theory requirement for students.
Brewer commented on the wide range of subjects that are included in this declaration: “As we’ve learned more about environmental justice and dug into this, we’ve broadened it out into these different categories. Climate justice encapsulates not only sustainability, but also equity and inclusion.”
One of the biggest struggles that EC has faced while drafting the declaration is convincing their peers that environmental justice goes hand in hand with racial justice. They aim to communicate to students that black, indiginoeus, and people of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. To adequately address climate change, the club cannot ignore this aspect of environmental studies. EC is also working to collaborate with other activist clubs on campus to promote their ideas.
Right now, EC is also in the process of receiving feedback from students and environmental studies professors. Much of the feedback they have received has been positive, especially regarding the declaration’s comprehensive nature. As they continue the drafting process, they are working to shorten their list of actions to those immediately necessary at this moment. Because there is so much to examine, the document grew very long.
Brewer said, “Our one document can’t fix every problem. What it can do is fix some of the problems and set a precedent for change at Bates.” She then added that, “currently, we’re taking things out that can be saved for later.”
One of the reasons they are trying to keep the document short is that they would like it to be approved by the Bates College Board of Trustees. They believe that this approval will be crucial to the success of the document. EC also wants students to sign onto the declaration. Their goal is to have 500 students sign, plus 50 to 100 faculty members.
Brewer noted that there is concern that the Bates administration will not accept the proposal, but she is staying optimistic. They believe that student support would garner the attention of the Board of Trustees. EC hopes to have their declaration completely drafted by the end of Module C, at which point they will present it to the community.
Brewer noted, “We need them to understand that a lot of students want this, not just the ten students who have been working on it.” Because many of the goals mentioned in the document have already been circulated, EC members feel that they have a good chance for success.
Brewer hopes that this work is just the beginning. She noted, “We would hope that EC continues to do things like this and continue to push the college to be more sustainable in any aspect.”