Williams Environmental Council (WEC) hosted the first integroup environmental summit at the College on Oct. 18, with 22 students in attendance.
Representatives from 12 groups convened at the Log to “facilitate communication between various groups on campus that have a stake in environmental issues,” according to Molly Pickel, treasurer of WEC. Organizations represented included WEC, Real Food, Purple Bike Coalition, Williams Sustainable Growers, Campus Environmental Advisory Committee, Williams Divest, WRAPS, Eco Advisors, Williams Beekeepers, Williams Outing Club, a Kinetic Energy subgroup and Winter Blitz.
“We have been talking about organizing a meeting between student environmental groups since last spring,” Alice Stears ’15, WEC co-president, said. “There are quite a lot of groups on this campus that have a vested interest in environmental issues, and we’ve never had a chance to just be together, acknowledge who was doing what and discuss how we can help each other achieve our respective goals and work together to move environmentalism forward at Williams.”
The conference started with introductions from each of the groups about why they decided to attend the summit.
From there, the groups discussed what environmentalism is like at the College and how the various groups can work together to make improvements.
“We laid out several steps to increase communication between groups,” Pickel said. She explained that future steps include meeting each semester and maintaining shared documents with information about the projects each group is working on and the contact information of those involved.
“We identified several projects where some groups were overlapping, and came up with concrete ways to increase our efficiency and impact,” Stears said.
Several groups are already planning to collaborate on projects about student energy use in dorms. Proposals include reintroducing the “Do it in the Dark” energy saving campaign and finding ways to effectively display the energy use data that the Zilkha Center compiles.
According to Stears, groups are working to garner student support for the Emissions Goal Reduction campaign and the Divest Williams movement. WEC is currently working to implement a new emissions reduction goal.
“These kinds of actions need a lot of support from the student body, so creating a network of interested people is vital,” Pickel said.
During the summit, groups also addressed the need to increase visibility and awareness of the work they are doing using a website and various forms of social media.
“One of the nice things that came out of the summit was the creation of a network with groups that are both directly and indirectly invested in environmental awareness,” Lani Willmar, a member of the Beekeeping Club, said. “Its important to have allies in any type of movement and it will be especially imperative for the environmental movement at Williams to have a diverse network of invested student groups and leaders.”
“I definitely think that the summit was productive,” Stears said. “We all got a chance to discuss the state of environmentalism and student involvement hear at Williams, and were able to talk about how we can support each other in the future … I hope that it happens on a more regular basis,” Stears said.