The University of Connecticut Fridays for Future chapter will still hold a sit in at President Thomas Katsouleas’ office tomorrow, even after Katsouleas sent an email response addressing the issue of environmental sustainability.
“We are still striking regardless,” UConn Fridays for Future founder Kelly Rafferty said. “See you all at Gulley Hall.”
Katsouleas’ email, sent to the UConn community Wednesday afternoon, said UConn would be committing itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, in line with Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order.
“Climate change is more than an emergency. It is a global crisis worsening by the day,” Katsouleas’ email said. “Given this, there is a strong feeling of urgency that the world and its institutions, including universities, accelerate goals to drastically reduce emissions.”
Katsouleas’ email also said the Trustee-Administration-Faculty-Student Committee, a special committee on the Board of Trustees, will meet this semester to discuss the issue of sustainability.
“UConn’s efforts to reduce our emissions and achieve the future sustainability we desire will be its sole agenda item,” the email said.
At the climate strike on Sept. 20 the strikers gave Katsouleas a two-week deadline to respond to their demands before they began sit-ins at his office. Yesterday’s email came two days before this deadline.
One of these demands was for the UConn Foundation to divest itself from fossil fuel interests.
“Although the university itself does not hold investments, we are actively engaged with the UConn Foundation, which does,” the email said. “The Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization with its own governing board. But this is a topic its board continues to discuss, knowing the sentiments of our community.”
Katsouleas’ email said that any course of action must be feasible.
“This issue is of the utmost importance to the UConn community, including myself, and we have an obligation to explore setting more ambitious goals than we already have,” the email said. “But any commitment we make must be real.”
Emma McDonald, a founding member of the UConn Chapter of Fridays for Future, said Katsouleas’ response is a good starting point but does not go far enough to address students concerns.
“I think this is a good place to start but it’s a terrible place to stop,” McDonald said.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is the editor-in-chief for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.