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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA camps out, promotes environment

Published: April 8, 2011
Section: News

Students made a statement about the overuse of electricity and advocated for Brandeis to work to use more sustainable energy sources Wednesday evening at the third annual sleepout on the great lawn, hosted by the waste and energy management subcommittee of Students for Environmental Action.

The sleep out represents one of many attempts by students to protest the university’s overuse of dirty energy. During the sleep out, students first broke into policy groups, and held a club meeting outdoors. Then in an effort to keep warm without the use of electricity, students did Zumba dancing with glow sticks and played with a glow-in-the dark Frisbee.

“I want to see Brandeis students pay more attention to how much they recycle, compost and waste,” said Haley Orlofsky’14, coordinator of the sleep out.

Orlofsky, a midyear, came to Brandeis specifically because of SEA’s high level of environmental activism. “Brandeis is even doing green tours now,” Orlofsky said, “to share green facts about certain dorms, and to show that it is much better to reuse energy than to just reduce it.”

As Orlofsky expressed, Brandeis makes going green accessible and rewarding. SEA has four subcommittees, including waste and energy management, a food group, students for a just and sustainable future (SJSF) and the Lemberg program, which visits Brandeis’s campus preschool each week to teach preschoolers about what it means to go green. SJSF originally hosted the sleep out, and then broke off from SEA to become a coal action group, which works to stop Massachusetts from building new coal plants.

Coal plants release harmful carbon emissions into the environment, and SEA and SJSF students are working to promote the use of renewable resources instead. “There are four coal plants in Massachusetts,” Regional Outreach Coordinator Dorian Williams’13 said. “We are trying to put pressure on legislators to cut out coal from Massachusetts by 2015. There are two bills in legislation right now, one to get rid of coal by 2015, that’s ours, and another to get rid of coal by 2020.”

Williams came up with an idea to build a microturbine on campus. “The microturbine generates energy, and has the electric capacity of a small house.” While the energy the microturbine produces pales in comparison to the amount of energy Brandeis uses, “it’s a strong showing of Brandeis’s commitment to sustainability,” Williams said.

Students in SJSF and SEA work together to raise sustainability awareness on campus, and locally in Waltham. “We focus on renovating houses in Waltham, so that the owners spend less money on heat,” President of SEA Nick Polanco ’13 said.

According to Polanco, SEA and its subcommittees have accomplished several major goals. “We got solar panels installed on the roof of Gosman, bottled water removed from lower and upper Usdan, and we set up the Brandeis Sustainability Fund, which provides grants, advice and support to any undergraduate student for their projects promoting sustainability.”

Still to come this semester, SEA will be hosting a Charles River cleanup, and will continue to focus on renovating houses in Waltham. Not only are clubs like SEA working to promote going green, but Brandeis’ International Business School was recently recognized as one of the best business schools in the nation for educating students to enter “green business” fields. Through the efforts of activists and educators on campus, Brandeis is on the road to becoming a more sustainable university.