Scripps’ Students Protest for Carbon Commitment

Photograph by Alaina Neuburger

Students protested at Scripps College this past Friday, November 15th, to get President Lara Tiedens to sign a carbon commitment. This protest was a culmination of over a year’s worth of attempts to work with the administration on institutionalizing sustainability at their school.

Student organizers, Julia McCartan SC ‘21 and Clair Payne SC ‘21 began the protest by explaining that the purpose of a carbon commitment is to hold schools accountable to environmental sustainability by tracking and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. 

“We think it is time that Scripps join the rest [of the schools] in climate leadership,” McCartan said. “[This Carbon Commitment] is a way for schools to have flexibility within a framework that holds them publicly accountable and provides for them resources and shared practices from schools across the nation.”

The other four Claremont undergraduate colleges already have carbon commitments through an organization called Second Nature. According to their website, Second Nature is an organization that partners with schools across the country on issues of climate justice. This organization requires that schools to pay minimal annual dues of $2200 a year, report their emissions annually, and set a date to reach carbon neutrality. 

Photograph by Alaina Neuburger

According to their website, Scripps College has a Sustainability Committee whose goal is “to educate, challenge and encourage students, faculty, and staff to advocate for the behavioral and social changes necessary to improve the environmental health of our community and our world.” Some of their responsibilities include reviewing and analyzing existing sustainability practices at the college, proposing goals and strategies that will address a comprehensive green management plan, and working with members of the Consortium to promote sustainability best practices through 5-College events. However, for environmentally engaged Scripps students, the existence of this committee are not nearly enough.

McCartan, who is on the commitee as the sustainability intern, said that although the commitee is important, it has limitations. Scripps has been without a Sustainbility Cordinator for over a year now, and this has been used as an excuse for putting the majority of  responsibility on students.

“As students, what we really feel is that any time there is a gap in sustainability at the school. It takes so much unpaid student labor to call attention to it…and there is no money set aside for sustainability,” McCartan said. “That is incredibly exhausting for students.”

Exhaustive student labor is only one of the many roadblocks organizers have faced in their mission to get Scripps to sign on to the Carbon Commitment. McCartan said that there is a lack of avenues towards creating change at Scripps due to the administrators’ unwillingness to engage in dialog with students or self-identify as decision makers. 

Scripps students showed their ongoing commitment at Friday’s protest by gathering with students from accross the colleges on the Scripps’ Bowling Green Lawn. Throughout the event, students painted banners, made climate wishes on a tree, and rallied throught the climate-disaster decorated halls of Balch. The protest concluded with students delivering the climate-wish tree, the freshly painted posters, and a petition to President Tieden’s office with over a thousand signatures.. 

“We want to demonstrate the stakes and the urgency, [but also] hold a shared vision of what it would look like if sustainability really was incorporated at Scripps,” said McCartan.

Photograph by Alaina Neuburger

Dani Miller ‘23 is from Bethesda Maryland. She enjoys podcasts, A24 Films, BROCKHAMPTON, and sharing her opinions with anyone who will hear them.

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