A coalition of environmental student groups, academic departments, and University offices came together on Tuesday for the Georgetown Environmental Leaders Fall Summit, where they discussed how to foster a community of environmentally conscious students and make campus more sustainable.
Groups such as EcoAction, GU Fossil Free, and the Corp Green Team engaged in a conversation with other campus groups, as well as professors and university staff. In addition, students were able to meet with the different clubs and departments to learn more about their programs, activities, and goals for the academic year.
“Our goal tonight is twofold,” said Caroline James (COL ‘16), one of the directors of GEL. “To talk through what you want for the year, and to establish a friendly community of student leaders.”
James noted that although the Office of Sustainability was present at the event, the GEL still lacks sufficient University recognition and funding.
“While we feel that GEL is developing well right now even as an independent body, we want to ensure continuity over the next few years,” wrote James in an email to the Voice. “We think GEL is an important enough addition to the life at Georgetown that it needs recognition and support from the University.”
Audrey Stewart, director for the Office of Sustainability, showed her support for GEL and noted her willingness to help any student group that comes to her office.
“The Office of Sustainability was created last year in part as a resource for the campus community on sustainability, and our doors are always open to students interested in these topics,” wrote Stewart in an email to the Voice. “I am looking forward to learning more about GEL’s goals and student priorities for sustainability this year, and hopefully helping to find practical ways to bring those ideas to reality on campus.”
The office is currently working on its campus sustainability plan, and Stewart hopes to include students in the planning process. “As a next step later this fall, we will be providing an opportunity for comments and feedback from the whole campus community to help inform this plan,” she said.
The GEL Summit was the first opportunity for environmental groups to meet and share some of their own initiatives for the year, such as the Corp’s Kill the Cup Campaign and GU Fossil Free’s proposal to the University to divest from fossil fuel companies.
James said that although GEL brings all of these groups together for common goals, the lack of university funding can still make running events like the summit difficult. GEL’s job is to give the groups belonging to it the support that they need. “Changes are happening slowly but surely [on campus],” James said.