UGA Sierra Student Coalition does "The Twist" in a beyond coal dance mob
by Grafton Tanner, UGA Beyond Coal
So many great things going on with the University of Georgia’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Where to begin....
UGA has its own coal boiler located on campus and burns about 500 tons of coal every day. It only runs four to five months out of the year, and at 46-years-old, it is arriving at the end of its operational life. We here at UGA Beyond Coal have been urging our president to set a date to retire the coal boiler and to establish a task force of students, faculty, administrators and operational staff to start planning for a cleaner, more renewable energy solution for the University.
Beyond Coal started the semester in full force with steadfast petitioning and phone banking. As of now, there are well over 1,300 petitions signed by UGA students urging President Adams to determine a date to retire our campus coal plant.
Several phone bank sessions later, UGA Beyond Coal hosted a massive call-in day on campus to further push for a date to retire the plant. We set up our station in Tate Plaza (which is the crux of the entire campus) and flagged passersby to join us in making calls to President Adams. From 10:30 to 2:30, over 215 calls were made. The staff members we talked to over the phone were incredibly nice and assured us that our requests would be forwarded to the president. Sweet success, y’all.
Fast forward a bit to the highly successful and talked-about flash mob we held in Tate. On a cool, wet, unsuspecting Wednesday at around 12:10 PM, a large group of Beyond Coal members seemingly appeared out of nowhere and cut a rug in front of hundreds of students walking through Tate between classes. The music blared, and we danced for clean energy. When the music paused, we crouched, and facts about the health effects of coal were read by members of the team. We attained several media hits, informed innocent bystanders of what was really in the air they were breathing, and boogied.
All of these actions were loads of fun and helped us gain momentum, but the real celebration came when the Student Government Association passed Resolution 24-05 calling for the retirement of our campus boiler and for the creation of a task force, including students and faculty, to determine the best alternative energy source. And not just a few members of the faculty. I’m talking 65 professors are currently supporting the task force. Needless to say, there is some cause for celebration here in Athens, GA. Good things are happening, and we are finally seeing the change we’ve been fighting for.
But it’s not over yet. We are still waiting for administration to step it up as much as we have. So far, no official statement has been made from them about a date to retire the boiler. We are as busy as ever urging President Adams to move this campus beyond coal.
Since Grafton wrote this post there have been dueling Op-Eds in the Red and Black, UGA's campus news paper.
According to the Administration in their editorial (The University’s stance on the coal plant) they acknowledge that the aging coal plant is nearing the end of it's operational life, but refuse to commit to a date to retire it officially or appoint a task force to seek healthy, clean energy solutions for the university.
Students quickly responded (Administration stretches truth in its stance on coal plant) pointing out that the Administration has not been nearly as cooperative as they suggested and making the case for moving off coal quickly since it negatively impacts the health of the Athens community and the school is missing a real opportunity to invest in innovative, clean and healthy solutions.