By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
Even though the mighty wind turbine is one of the symbols of the UMass Dartmouth campus, those who attend the school know that clean, renewable energy isn’t the go-to form of power in any buildings.
However, UMass D student Nathaniel Roberts and other passionate members of MassPIRG set out to change that. Since the spring ’17 semester, MassPIRG has been campaigning to persuade institutions to embrace renewable energy, both statewide and right here on campus.
Nathaniel Roberts is head of the campaign, and alongside campus organizer Haylee Becker, lobbied for the campus-wide switch from dirty fossil fuels.
“It started with a group of dedicated people like Haylee and myself,” Roberts said, “deciding that this is a campaign we wanna run at a state level and a local level, and then recruiting people who are interested in the same idea, then creating what we call ‘campaign product’ which are petitions and letters of support and such. Then we showed the Chancellor all of that campaign product.”
While sending the proposition to Chancellor Johnson was the final step, the renewable energy campaign was first put to a vote by the Student Government Association. Fortunately, the SGA voted overwhelmingly in favor of the idea, and so it was brought to the Chancellor, who was happy to approve of the plan.
The most exciting part of the proposal is UMass Dartmouth’s presence on the forefront of this new frontier; the school is the first public university in the nation to pledge to the conversion to clean energy.
However, converting the campus from typical electricity to renewable energy won’t be a quick or easy process. Lots of intensive work has to be planned, and replacing already-existing energy sources must be carefully executed. Thus, the plan is slated for the distant date of 2050.
“We don’t have the exact details, but we have an idea of what that could look like,” Roberts said, “What the process would possibly look like is buildings that need to be built would be built in a way that is more sustainable and energy efficient, and maintenance in current buildings would be done in the same way.”
This isn’t the first big success MassPIRG has had in recent years. In 2015 the group convinced Subway and KFC to use meat that wasn’t tainted with excessive antibiotics, a big victory for safe eating.
“We really have no choice but to stop using dirty fossil fuels, and I think that we’re moving towards a world that’s gonna be run on renewable energy,” Becker noted, “and I think it’s exciting that UMass Dartmouth can pioneer that vision.”
UMass Dartmouth’s eventual switch to clean energy is great news for both the environment and our community. Even though none of us are going to be witnessing the change firsthand as students, you can still help bring immediate change to the campus and to the nation.
MassPIRG has been very successful in their campaigns to help the environment, and they are always looking for new members. Join the team and show support for your vision; you might be surprised how far it can grow.