As Gross Pledges $5,000 to Campaign, Student Groups Celebrate Earth Day

More than 20 student groups and neighborhood organizations transformed Winthrop’s courtyard Saturday into a celebration of Earth Day. Everyone from the Harvard Cycling Team to student representatives of the Environmental Science and Public Policy concentration set up booths to welcome both current students and prefrosh attendees.

“It’s really exciting to see all the student groups out here celebrating environmental awareness and involvement,” said Faon M. O’Connor ’08, co-chair of Harvard’s Environmental Action Committee (EAC).

Neighborhood establishments such as Harvest Supermarkets also turned out to hawk their wares and spread their environmentally friendly message. “This is our first time coming to Earth Day here at Harvard,” said Chris Durkin, Director of Membership and Community Relations at Harvest. “It’s a good opportunity to meet students and let them know what we offer.”

Exhibits included a poster about environmental change in New England’s wildlife, as well as a model dorm room with such cautionary messages as “One computer left on for one year is responsible for 350,000 lbs. CO2 emissions.”

Revelers were also treated to performances by Harvard bands Major Major and the Dharma Seals, marking the first time that bands have appeared specifically for Earth Day festivities.

Earth Day Co-Chair of the EAC Alicia G. Harley ’08 said that the discontinuation of Harvard’s annual Springfest has had a significant effect on Earth Day. In the past, Earth Day had been held on the same day as the Springfest celebration.

“When we found out that there was no Springfest, we were pretty shocked, but we eventually decided it was a great thing to have Earth Day out on its own,” she said. “It’s been a lot more work, though, because we usually get funding from Springfest.”

This year the EAC got around $900 in grant money from the UC to fund its event, O’Connor said.

Jake C. Levine ’06-’07, the other co-chair of EAC, echoed Harley’s sentiments. “It was a blessing in disguise that Springfest didn’t happen, as we’d been looking to expand anyway,” he said.

EAC also used the event to launch the new Green Crimson campaign, which will “bring more education about reliable energy to the campus,” O’Connor said.

Dean Gross spoke at the announcement of the campaign, pledging at least $5,000 from the College over the coming year, according to O’Connor.

Gross wrote in an e-mail last night that the pledge was an effort to increase awareness about energy conservation.

“I hope that students will match this in the fall, to raise funds for the purchase of renewable energy,” he wrote in an e-mail. “My hope is that this campaign will also give people a sense of the rising energy costs we all face, and the need for energy conservation.”

Undergraduate Council Student Affairs Committee Chair Ryan A. Petersen ’08 expressed strong support for the campaign.

“We’re hoping the College puts their money where their mouth is,” he said.

Earth Day won’t be the last EAC event this spring. Next week, the campus will host Harvard Vision 2020, the College’s first-ever conference on campus sustainability.