The following reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board
Last week, Miami University’s Sustainability Committee failed to come to an agreement as to whether university President Gregory Crawford should sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).
This comes despite the fact that 400 other institutions for higher education, including Miami’s peer institutions like Ohio State, Ohio University, Denison University, Bowling Green State University and the University of Cincinnati have all taken the necessary steps to pledge their willingness to do everything in their power to be carbon neutral in the foreseeable future. Some of them did so nine years ago.
Miami has a moral obligation to do the same, and The Student believes the university’s hesitation in the face of such an impending crisis speaks volumes about what the university actually prioritizes.
Crawford has promised to promote a “culture of sustainability” on Miami’s campus, but that promise rings hollow when we look at all the ways the university has failed to build on the momentum after achieving its own small sustainability goals set nine years ago.
It’s all too easy for the university to greenwash that progress and encourage complacency with what has managed to be done. But Miami students cannot afford to let the university skirt by so easily.
“Environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic viability for current and future generations” should include making sure the environment is hospitable to the next generation of students – otherwise, the “economic viability” of the university isn’t going to matter when people are more concerned with the climate meltdown.
The Student isn’t alone in feeling as though the university is on the brink of failing the entire community. Nearly 500 Miami students have signed the petition to ask Crawford to sign the commitment. Even though many of us will only be on campus for four years, we all have a stake in this.
And while student input was taken into account at last week’s meeting, it’s clear that wasn’t enough to tip the scales in the discussion.
The Student was dismayed to hear that the university’s own Sustainability Committee was “gathering information on all sides.” There aren’t equal sides to the climate crisis. Giving credence to anything else is to give priority to things like monetary concerns and structural barriers that are nothing compared to the human cost of the looming environmental threat.
We just hope Miami is not so foolish.
The Institute for Environmental Sustainability is on our side, though. Jonathan Levy, the director of the institute, agreed that Miami has a “moral obligation” to at least attempt to fulfill the goals of the commitment.
“I recognize that [failure] is a possibility, but all this commitment is doing is saying, ‘we’re going to try,’” Levy said.
We can’t afford to simply try. The planet can’t afford a half hearted ‘We tried’ when the global south is already feeling the heat.
President Crawford, sign the ACUPCC. If that’s the best we can do, it’s the least you can do.