Students to host discussion on local climate change

With climate change being such a prominent and debated issue both on the University of Rhode Island’s campus and within the state, a new student group, Students for a Fossil Free RI, have formed to allow students to learn, voice their opinions and work to eliminate some of the big causes of local climate change.

They hope to inform students that climate change and the use of fossil fuels around them is something that affects everyone. The group established connections with a local activist group known as Fossil Free RI, which was originally founded on campus by founding members URI physics professor Peter Nightingale and others including Robert Malin, Abel Collins, Nick Katkevich, and more.

The group is bringing many speakers to campus to inform students of the proposed power plant plan for Burrillville, Rhode Island, and why this should be prevented.  The group plans to inform how this will affect students both on and off campus. They will also be discussing how to read electric bills and how to cut down on costs and be more efficient.

The event will be held on Dec. 8, with guest speaker Paul A Roselli, president of Burrillville Land Trust. He will explain the cons of this plan in a presentation called “Learn the Facts.” Within the presentation he will also raise awareness on the local impacts of climate change. This will also act as an active discussion for students to voice opinions on climate change as well.

Students for a Fossil Free RI came out of a project for a class, PSY 478, Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation Training. Students, Nicholas Bush, Sarah La Tulipe, Pierre Charles, Lyle Harrington and Alexandra Benavides, wanted to raise awareness of these ongoing issues.

The group plans to use six steps, originated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to carry out their mission to inform the campus and then work to prevent the issues. These steps include information gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, direct action and reconciliation to facilitate and carry out their plans to make students aware and involved in these ongoing issues both on and off campus.

On informing students, “I think it will be easier to take steps towards being a more eco-friendly campus.” La Tulipe said.

The group hopes to take steps and actively apply those to making a change on campus regarding the topics of climate change and use of fossil fuels.

“I think there are two goals,” Bush said. “The first goal is to raise education and awareness around climate issues and how climate change will affect you… The second is to increase the student activism around climate change.”

“We want to remind students, if they think that this [climate change] is just happening here, it’s happening everywhere,” La Tulipe said.

The group is co-sponsored by the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, as well as helped by Jamie Palter, a professor who sparked the group’s interest to enact change.