I love cold weather. It’s when the leaves begin crunching under my feet. It’s when I wear my hoodie to class for the first time. And it’s when snuggling up for a movie with that special someone just sounds better than walking to that party a few chilly blocks away.

But what if it never got cold? What if autumn never came?

I, for one, would be miffed.

One group of students doesn’t think we should let fall disappear.

The Campus Climate Challenge is a national student movement asking colleges and universities to make a simple commitment: to instate 100 percent clean energy policies, thereby reducing the effects of climate change, and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent within the next eight years.

The CCC seems to think that a university is a good place to start a global initiative because it’s full of smart people, and it’s where future policymakers’ opinions are formed.

It kind of makes sense, right?

But the resistance of the Georgetown administration and the indifference among students is making their job difficult.

One of the affiliated projects of the CCC is the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a group of those university presidents who have committed to the CCC’s goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the time span set by the CCC. Its diverse list of members includes presidents of private schools – such as Cornell and Duke – and large state schools like the Universities of Arkansas and Florida.

Notoriously absent from the 426-member list is Georgetown’s president, Dr. John J. DeGioia.

This might come as a surprise.

Efforts by Hoyas to develop renewable energy solutions are not a new phenomenon. Space station-sized solar panels on the ICC and a cutting-edge fuel-cell bus program were here long before the CCC came around.

But what makes the CCC’s presence different is that it’s taking place at a time when Georgetown is working harder than ever before to become a world leader.

Every August, DeGioia gives a speech at the New Student Convocation in which he talks at length about the global impact that our students can have, and the billions of people we have the obligation to help.

But maybe it’s all talk.

In the early 1990s, DeGioia was one of several administrators whose lack of support killed a campus renovation plan which would have created, among other things, more athletic fields for students and comprehensive renewable energy systems.

DeGioia should recognize that members of our university are not only working toward an honorable goal, but one that falls in line with the very nature of the rhetoric he puts forth: a duty to help the rest of the world.

Some people genuinely care about the effects that Georgetown’s energy consumption will have on climate change and lose sleep at night worrying about all the plants and animals around the world that may become extinct if the effects of global warming continue.

But even for those who don’t give a hoot about the damn penguins, there is another reason to care about energy consumption at Georgetown: money.

As the cost of Georgetown’s utilities increases, expensive programs and funding for clubs may be reduced in order to offset the rising price of fuel and electricity. If we don’t cut consumption, it will be students who are left to foot the bill.

The university’s energy contract with PepCo runs out next autumn, and now would be an excellent time to explore ways for our university to reduce its consumption in order to save the most money when negotiations for our next energy contract begin.

Last year, members of another student group, Eco Action, and the university created the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee to do just that.

As a result of their work, classrooms in the ICC now contain motion-sensing light switches so that lights don’t stay on in empty rooms, and residence hall offices display their building’s energy consumption statistics in order to make students think twice about how many appliances they use.

But the scope of the Sustainability Committee is limited to small programs within the Office of Facilities. And, since the committee has met only once this semester, its progress has stagnated.

There’s still plenty of work to do.

For their part, students should care about their university’s energy consumption. And they should reach out to Eco Action and the CCC to find ways that their own groups can make a difference.

For example, on any given day at THE HOYA, most of our 29 computers remain turned on and unused. That’s one energy drain that just shouldn’t happen.

Students who claim to support the CCC and Eco Action should make an effort to participate in their events. Last weekend, the CCC endorsed PowerShift, a national youth conference at the University of Maryland at College Park which sought to empower students to create a national plan for 2009 to stop global warming. The conference was well-attended by thousands of students from across the country, but only five Hoyas made the short trip down the Metro to the event.

DeGioia’s support is necessary, but not sufficient, for success. Groups like the CCC and Eco Action must keep working to educate students about how their decisions have an impact as well.

Our school is poised to be a leader in the global fight against climate change. We can succeed, but only with bold and confident leadership. DeGioia and students should recognize the work that is already being done by members of the Georgetown community to make our campus a cleaner place. And we should all recognize the benefits that their efforts could have for our school.

Please, Dr. DeGioia, sign the Presidents Climate Commitment.

D. Pierce Nixon is a senior in the College and Contributing Editor for THE HOYA. He can be reached at nixonthehoya.com. DAYS ON THE HILLTOP appears every other Tuesday.

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