Environmental Action Group of BGSU Stages Sit-In at President Mazey's Office
As yet another semester at Bowling Green State University inches towards its conclusion, I realize how difficult it is to adequately summarize the accomplishments of Environmental Action Group in the form of the written word. Our campaign for 100% clean energy at BGSU by 2020 has reached heights that attest to the dedication of all students and community members who have been directly involved or have expressed valuable support and that highlight the urgent situation escalated by continued fossil fuel usage. 3,313 students, faculty, and community members have signed our petition, 16 student organizations have signed onto our coalition letter, and from Monday to Thursday of last week, BGSU students made their voices heard in a new way as they flooded President Mary Ellen Mazey’s office with at least 432 phone calls.
On Monday, April 15, students of Environmental Action Group converged outside of our student union to ask students to call President Mazey’s office. Why? To tell her they want her to lead the university in a transition to 100% clean energy. The week of calling was conducted in preparation for Environmental Action Group’s biggest action yet: a sit-in at President Mazey’s office on Friday, April 19.
An eventful week culminated on that eventful day at 9:30 am as five students arrived at the McFall Center, home of President Mazey's office, to sit-in for 100% clean energy. They were met in front of guarded and locked doors by at least fifteen BGSU police officers. After they got inside, only two students were allowed upstairs—behind a police escort through doors that had to be unlocked—to deliver flowers to President Mazey’s secretary. It was a gesture of gratitude for her hard work during a week in which she was faced with an overwhelming amount of calls.
23 students in total joined the sit-in throughout the day until 5:00 pm, cordial and peaceful, which proved the preemptive police presence to be an unnecessary use of precious university funds that could and should be used towards 100% clean energy.
Although students weren’t able to speak to President Mazey—she was not in her office—or any member of the administration on Friday, our efforts were again recognized and commended throughout the community. We delivered 686 additional petition signatures from students, faculty, and community members and phone call tracks from the week. We also attempted to set up a third meeting with President Mazey on August 26th (the first day of classes for the Fall 2013 semester) at 9:00 am to discuss the administration’s progress on transitioning the university to 100% clean energy. The administration has claimed that the transition will cost $200 million; we’re eager to see the research and work with a planning team to identify next steps. We’ve shown a clear willingness to work together with the administration, and we’re looking for the same in return.
Our campaign has sought to echo the thoughts of our student body, and we’ve clearly succeeded in that. The students have done their part, and now, in order to show that our words do matter, President Mazey’s administration must exercise bold leadership in clean energy solutions. “It's clear that the students have spoken, and will continue to until we actually get a commitment to clean energy,” said Madison Thomas. A transition to 100% clean energy would result in international headlines for BGSU. President Mazey’s administration has the opportunity work with the students and take historic action—the type of action that our world needs and that our students, after all their hard work and all they’ve given to the university, deserve more than ever.
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