Students are The Real ‘Greening’ Force on Campus

To the editors:

The front-page piece on the planned Allston expansion ("Allston Adopts CO2 Caps," news, Sept. 18) gave due praise to Harvard for taking a firm and measurable stand on sustainability. It fails, however, to extend that praise to one of the real "greening" forces on campus: the student body.

Undergraduates have long been the University’s staunchest environmental advocates. It was students who worked to ensure the 2004 adoption of the six guiding "Sustainability Principles" for the Allston development. Soon after, students passed a referendum that called for an optional wind-energy fee to be added to their term bills. Despite a prompt veto of the measure by the University administration, students voted green again in 2006, demanding emissions reduction targets for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) through another College-wide referendum.

In each of these cases, student support for environmental responsibility has been effective in creating substantial change on campus. The Sustainability Principles signed by then-University President Lawrence H. Summers continue to guide planning strategy in Allston; the 2005 wind referendum resulted in the University-supported Green Crimson Renewable Energy Fund; last year’s vote prompted the creation of the energy task force planning FAS emissions reductions.

Students have long been a driving force in Harvard’s move towards campus sustainability. To ignore their role is to disguise their labor even as we celebrate its fruits.


Cambridge, Mass.

September 19, 2007

The writer is former co-chair of the Harvard Environmental Action Committee.