More than 50 people marched Friday afternoon at Oregon State University in a protest against what they say is the school’s insufficient action on climate change.
The event was organized by the OSU Sunrise Club to coincide with the ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which runs through Dec. 13 in Madrid. Organizer John Stepanek said other Sunrise Movement hubs were holding similar events around the country.
“We’re here in solidarity with them,” he said.
According to Stepanek, the protest was aimed at pressuring the university to make more progress on its 2009 pledge to be a carbon-neutral campus by 2025.
“We’re saying, 'Keep your word. Do what you pledged,'” he said.
Stepanek added that OSU scientists have signed on to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, and the university’s lack of action does not match its contributions to the science of climate change.
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“It doesn’t reflect the students or community here,” he said.
Climate change, he added, was the most existential threat in the planet's history and the protest's goal was to show the administration that people are watching. OSU, he said, has the resources to take action.
The university addressed the demonstration in an email signed by Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser. The statement was sent shortly after the protest.
“We share others’ concerns about changes occurring in the world’s climate and the impacts being felt globally,” Feser wrote, adding that work is underway to meet the university's goal.
“From 2008 to 2018, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions on our Corvallis campus by 12%, despite significant growth in enrollment and the number of Corvallis campus buildings," his statement read. "On a per-student and per-square-foot basis of building space, this equates to a 41% reduction in emissions.
"As well, OSU’s Board of Trustees has directed administrators to not invest university cash assets in fossil fuel-related securities; we have plans for the expansion of OSU-Cascades that call for a net zero campus; and UHDS dining centers and catering departments are utilizing locally sourced foods and conserving waste."
However, Feser said, OSU would require additional investments to meet the 2025 goal.
“To move forward with greater immediacy and results, I have asked all deans, academic and university administrative leaders to consider how they and their colleges and units are addressing climate action in the conduct of their daily business. And consider how to grow those efforts."
Anthony Rimel covers education and crime in Benton County and weekend events across the Mid-Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com or 541-812-6091.