BGSU students advocate for solar array on campus

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS
A hill created by construction debris goes mostly unoccupied during the year. Except that is on Independence Day when people gather there to watch the fireworks being launched from the stadium to the southeast.
A group of Bowling Green State University students have a different vision for the site – they’d like to see an array of solar panels erected there.
Recently the Environmental Action Group and Environmental Service Club drafted a letter and had it signed by a couple dozen other student leaders urging the university to take the city up on its offer to put solar panels on the site.
The city’s main solar array will be located on Carter Road, but it offered to also place some on campus. No site was designated.
City officials confirmed Monday night that the offer was made, but they’ve yet to hear a response from BGSU.
Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, said the university hasn’t taken enough action to fulfill its climate action plan that resulted from president Mary Ellen Mazey joining other higher education executives in signing a Climate Commitment calling for campuses to become neutral in their greenhouse gas emissions.
That plan, filed in November, 2014, sets out “a vision of the institution as a sustainable campus in the 21st century, operating economically and efficiently, and producing net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is a vision to be realized by the year 2040.”
The solar project would provide “great visibility for the university showing how we are taking some steps to realize our goals,” Murnen said.
Matthew Cunningham, the president of the Environmental Action Group, said, the solar panels could also provide students with hands-on learning experiences.
As much as the lack of action, Dan Myers, public relations officer for the Environmental Action Group, said the students were concerned that the administration is not communicating with students. “We’re pretty significant stakeholders in the university.”
Cunningham said he did see Mazey at a Presidents Day event, and that she said she would be sending a response to the letter to student government.
That the activists said would not be enough. Undergraduate Student Government leaders, Cunningham said, have too much on their plate.
Murnen said that this issue also shows a need for more student engagement. “Maybe students need to take a more active role.” Students on other campuses are advocating for a variety of issues, she said.
Though there is a consensus on campus that the university needs to take action on environmental issues, Myers said, “a lot of people believe they don’t have the ability to do something.”
Cunningham said they have been in contact with members of faculty senate about bringing up the issue in that forum.
“What it really comes down to transparency between students, administration and faculty.”

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