As the Board of Visitors for the Univeristy of Virginia came to campus for their latest meeting, they were greeted by SSC students in yellow t-shirts handing them letters telling them it's time to retire their dirty, polluting campus coal plant.
We met the Board of Visitors as they entered into the Rotunda for the opening session of their meeting. We had three or four very productive and positive conversations with members and had one who refused a letter because he was a "coal executive." Besides him I think that we got letters into almost every one of their hands. The letters were signed by students.
Here's the press release for the event:
Board of Visitors Meet to Discuss University’s Energy Future
UVA Students Say Retiring Coal Plant Should be #1 on the List
Charlottesville, VA: The Sierra Student Coalition at the University of Virginia today handed out letters to members of the Board of Visitors requesting that the university retire the Main Heating Plant. The Board is meeting to approve the six-year plan for the University. The Sierra Student Coalition, which is part of a broader national Beyond Coal campaign, is working to retire the coal burning plant and push the school onto renewable energy like wind and solar.
"As the Board meets to discuss important issues relating to energy on campus, the Main Heating Plant is spewing dangerous pollution into our air right across from the Medical Center,” UVA SSC President Kenneth Hawes said. “We need the university to address its pollution on campus by investing in clean energy sources that will make us a national leader."
In the letter the SSC said that, "The University of Virginia has an opportunity to do what is right for the people of Virginia and set an example for our students, the future leaders of this nation, by moving beyond coal as soon as possible."
Already the Sierra Student Coalition, working with students across the country, has secured commitments from sixteen leading universities to stop burning coal. The students here hope to add the University of Virginia to that list as soon as possible and have already collected thousands of petitions from students supporting the campaign.
The iconic Rotunda, in which the Board was holding its meeting, is itself affected by the continued use of coal on grounds. The Rotunda has recently begun to decay as a result of soot collection and acid rain, both a consequence of burning coal. The tops of the columns on both sides of the building are surrounded by black cloth designed to catch the falling pieces for students’ protection.
The letter also addressed the issue of sustainability of grounds, “Sustainability has long been something that the university has sought to achieve and we can take a giant step towards that goal. It is time for the University of Virginia to join the group of 16 universities that have already committed to stop burning coal on campus and step up to lead Virginia and the nation towards a clean and healthy energy future.”
The SSC seeks to retire the Main Heating Plant by the earliest date possible and wants the University to work with Dominion Virginian Power to invest in renewables across the state. Such investment would allow the University to purchase its electricity from non-coal generated energy as well.