Sixth Green Summit Pushes

Peggy Collins

On Friday, February 2, students, faculty and staff members, administrators and members of the community ww is to establish a shared vision for building the environmental future at Colgate. The “think tank” is a local effort that is connected to other communities with similar goals, with the hope that actions taken at the local level will result in a difference made nationwide.

The first Green Summit was held in 2003 and was organized by former Outdoor Education Leader Molly Baker.

This year was a sort of transition for the summit’s organizers, known as the Host Crew, as the event was completely student-run. Juniors Nicole Svajlenka, Liz Juers and Steph Tubman and seniors Beth Weick, Liz Juers and Sarah Caban were all members of the Host Crew.

This year, the Host Crew aimed to create a more streamlined and organized mission. The first summit lasted two days, the second was only six hours and this year’s event lasted roughly two hours.

Since the original summit, the event has evolved into a successful and practical collaboration between different groups on campus with an environmental focus. Problems in the past included the difficulty of maintaining accountability as well as the feasibility of each initiative.

“For this summit, we approved the initiatives ahead of time because in the past the goals were at times unrealistic,” Svajlenka said. “Hopefully, this year, we can see things realistically happen. [We hope to] increase involvement in the groups and heighten environmental awareness on campus.”

One past initiative resulted in the creation of the Green Bikes project, which is a communal bike program scheduled to begin later this spring. Participants will pay for a key to unlock the bikes and can then ride anywhere on campus, leaving the bike for the next participant.

Green Summit allows representatives from groups on campus like The Campus Ecology Group, the Loj, Outdoor Education, Hamilton Outdoor Group and Students for Environmental Action to work together to put into practice environmentally-related initiatives. Six initiatives, known as “green strides” were discussed, including: an improved recycling program, biofuel options, promoting current environmental issues in elections and politics, a publicity campaign, an energy conservation project and “Focus the Nation,” a nationwide global warming awareness program.

“We are a grassroots organization trying to promote environmental awareness and to increase environmental activities, or ‘green activity,’ on campus,” Weick said.

The group that brainstormed about current environmental issues in politics focused on these issues primarily in New York State in hopes of starting at a local level and then progressing to a national level. The publicity campaign included several members of the Admissions staff in hopes of bringing awareness not only to the current Colgate community, but to prospective students, their families and even alumni. The energy conservation project discussed the amount of energy wasted in buildings and means to prevent this excess. The Focus the Nation event will take place next January; it is an initiative at high schools and college campuses to advocate awareness of climate change and global warming issues.

The motto of the summit was “Moving From Vision to Action.” The Host Crew hopes that the initiatives presented by each group can be completed or at least implemented by Earth Day, which is April 22. There will be a check-in meeting at the end of March, at which point it is hoped that a significant “stride,” meaning progress, will have been made by then.

“It seems there is a crisis in the twenty-first century concerning the environment, and we need to act on the science that is out there,” Caban said. “The environment should be the top priority when doing anything on campus.”