Task Force puts forth plans to reach a carbon-neutral campus by 2050

Student Senate also discussed bill to change “Thanksgiving Break” to “Fall Break” over history of colonization in America

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This week’s Student Senate meeting began at 6:05 p.m. on Nov. 23 in Centennial Hall. Lauren Becker, director of the Student Office of Sustainability, presented on behalf of the Sustainability and Climate Action Task Force for their plans to build a more eco-friendly campus in the future.

Becker, a fourth-year environmental geography student, said the task force hoped to push the administration to equip all students and faculty with the knowledge of climate change.

The group set the goal of reaching carbon neutrality for the university as a way to help stop the increase in global warming and other symptoms of climate change.

Becker presented on the concrete goals of the task force. She said she hoped to “model specific sustainability and climate action practices across the UWEC campuses” by renegotiating various contracts with suppliers and others. 

The task force is focused on cutting carbon emissions as well, she said. Their goal is for the campus to be carbon neutral by 2050. One idea put forth was to create a decentralized, geo exchange heating/cooling system for the campus buildings on the opposite side of the river. 

“We know that a plan like this is necessary for the campus to achieve our goals,” Becker said.

Through a partnership with Xcel Energy, Becker said they hoped to make a carbon-free electricity commitment for the campus and eventually the entire UW system.

The group said their overarching goal was to “position UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire Barron County as regional leaders in sustainability and climate action education, engagement, and programming.”

The University’s plan can be found here.

The senate then discussed the proposed Bill 64R-11. The purpose of the bill was to formalize the usage of the term “Fall Break” instead of “Thanksgiving Break.”

Alyssa Monson introduced the bill and said Thanksgiving is a holiday which reflects the violence done by European colonizers unto the natives who lived in North America.

“It was a holiday that celebrated mass genocide,” Monson said.

After deliberations on various parts of the text of the bill, specifically the removal of titles from the legislation, the bill was withdrawn and not taken up for a vote.

Kristof can be reached at [email protected]