Letter to Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University

On July 29, 2020, 47 student organizations at Purdue University, representing over 8,000 students, gave the President of Purdue University a letter asking that the university commit to carbon neutrality. In addition, as of July 29 over 1,800 individuals signed a similar letter. Read the full letter sent to the Purdue President below.

29 July 2020

Dear President Daniels,

We are writing this letter today representing over 8000 Purdue students 1 across 60 student organizations, and with widespread state-wide support, to urge you to engage with large-scale climate action planning efforts in partnership with Tippecanoe County and the Cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette. The support and commitment from the university, as a significant part of our Greater West Lafayette community, is vital as local governments work to develop a Regional Climate Action and Adaptation Plan for all of Tippecanoe County with the three local jurisdictions. This is an opportunity for Purdue to take its Next Giant Leap forward and become a leader among institutions of higher education not only in affordability, transformative education, entrepreneurship, world-changing research, online education, and STEM leadership, but climate action as well.

In recent months, we have seen Purdue pave the way for public universities in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now time that Purdue responds to another global crisis, climate change, which is just as much a quality of life and racial equality issue as it is environmental. Purdue has taken steps to go green by LEED certifying new buildings that meet a certain cost; however, the university can build on these policies by committing to curb net carbon emissions 100% by 2030. Purdue can ensure the completion of this plan by creating a campus-wide sustainability office, composed of researchers, faculty, students, economists, and other relevant personnel that is appropriately funded, staffed, and involved with administrative and budgetary decision-making. While we do not have the resources or skills to complete Purdue’s plan by ourselves as students, the plans of many institutions are public at SecondNature.org, and we would be happy to collaborate with this new sustainability office to adapt these plans to Purdue. Climate change is a multifaceted issue that must receive the amount of attention devoted to other prevalent socioeconomic concerns in the Office of the Provost, like student life and diversity. This on-campus office will tackle campus sustainability better than the current, understaffed office that is limited to facilities. Additionally, while carbon neutrality does not require an immediate transition away from fossil fuels, we believe creating a long-term, enforceable plan on fossil fuel divestment is crucial in the prevention of future economic distress from the dependence on non-renewable energy sources. Many universities 2 , including Big Ten schools; companies 3 , including major energy-using industries 4 ; and cities 5 are moving towards carbon neutrality because they see that taking preventative action now circumvents taking drastic actions in the future 6 . The financial benefits of pursuing carbon neutrality are visible in schools such as Ball State, who now saves more than $2M in energy costs per year, as well as other schools such as The Ohio State University, which maintains frozen tuition. At Purdue, financial gains can go towards spearheading the university’s other missions of achieving world-class academics, diversity, entrepreneurship, and student wellness. Achieving complete carbon neutrality by 2030 is realistic and pays significant dividends.

The time to commit to carbon neutrality is now. Our local community has committed to climate action with the support of Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute and Purdue’s Climate Change Research Center, and as a result, they are propelling themselves toward a more sustainable, just future for all. Purdue has a responsibility to follow the will of the student body by joining these efforts to build a better world for its students. The generations of the future will greatly appreciate the leaders of today who took action and remember those who did not. Let this be the moment that future generations observe as the day Purdue took its biggest leap of all. They will see this milestone in the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall’s Purdue History Timeline. Purdue students, the leaders of tomorrow, are relying on you. We urge the Purdue administration to take the Next Giant Leap and leave the planet better than we received it, together ─ one brick higher.

 

Best,

Mason Merkel, Madison Hodges, Amy Worley-Peterson, Rachel Cotner, Holly Curry, Annabel Prokopy,

Ethan Bledsoe, Iris O’Donnell Bellisario

West Lafayette Students for Climate Action

 

And from the following Purdue Student Organizations:

 

Frances Kelly

President, Student Sustainability Council

Sage Smith

President, Purdue College Republicans

Daniel Farrell

President, Purdue College Democrats

Brian Tedeschi

President, Residence Hall Association

Karen Hubbard

President, Purdue American Association of University Women

Executive Board

Asian Student Union Board

Shreeja Shrestha

President, Multicultural Greek Council

Liam Bettez

President, Purdue Interfraternity Council

Taylor Doehrman

President, Purdue Cooperative Council

Assata Gilmore

President, Purdue Student Government

Jonah Ross

President, Sunrise Movement Purdue

Isabelle Titus

President, Boiler Green Initiative

Annie Bingle

Directing Co-Chair, Purdue Rising Professionals

Thomas Frosch

President, Purdue Liberal Arts Student Council

Noor Abdullah

President, Purdue Timmy Global Health

Lumari Perez

President, Latinx Student Union

Katlyn Hansen

President, Purdue Relay for Life

Alice Pawley

Founder, Purdue Climate Strike

Angela Pan

President, Food Finders Food Bank Club

Jaclyn Frank

President, Purdue Period Project

Erica Wang

President, Society of Environmental and Ecological Engineers

YuXin Dong

President, Women in Physics

Megan McDuffie

President, Undergraduate Physics Student Council

Omar Tantawi

President, Environmental and Ecological Engineering Graduate Student Organization

Anna Adamsson, Liana Zogbi

Co-Leads, Solar Ambassadors of Purdue

Brooke Beliles

President, Engineers Without Borders

Nathan Gurgens

President, Purdue Space Program

Andrea Copeland, Kiara Smith

President, Vice President, STEMPOWER

Anna Adamsson

President, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society

Cici Waterman

President, Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society

Jiayu Luo

President, Hiking Club

Reed Hudson

President, Purdue Outing Club

Anna-Nikol Georgiev, Silenze Esquivel Benjamin

Vice President, Representative, SKY @ Purdue

Madison Draper

President, Dodge the Dark

Christina Core

President, National Society of Black Engineers

Kate Nicholl

Vice President, Society of Women Engineers

Bee Overbey

President, Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Graduate Student Council

Ashley King

President, American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Enes Shaltami

President, Purdue Electrical and Computer Engineering Student Society

Elizabeth Bramer

President, Women in Nuclear

Jeremy Mateja

President, American Nuclear Society

Josh Fitch

President, Purdue Orbital

Antoine Minier

President, Krannert Net Impact

Derek Crane

President, Tau Beta Sigma Honorary Band Sorority and Fraternity

Cayley Boumansour

President, Model United Nations

William Taylor

President, Baha’i Club

Amanda Shie

President, Chinese Culture Appreciation Club

 

And from the following Purdue Student Government Senators:

 

Alex Reed, Rajat Kadian

Senators, Krannert School of Management

Evan Kopp

Senator, College of Liberal Arts

Adithya Lyengar, David Hockenberry, Zachary McClary

Senators, College of Engineering

Mili Jha

Senator, Honors College

Saul Guzman, Evan Chrise

Senators, Exploratory Studies

Sammy Bonnet

Senator, College of Education

 

With support from the following community organizations:

 

Annabel Prokopy, Ethan Bledsoe

Representatives, West Lafayette Climate Strike

Chris Campbell

State Representative (D), Indiana 26th District (West Lafayette)

Gabriel Filipelli

Director, Center for Urban Health

Fathers Tom McDermott, Chris Saliga, Patrick Baikauskas, Deacon Dan Finn, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

Tom McConville

Co-Chair, Social Justice at Unitarian Universalist Church, West Lafayette

Erin Moodie

Leader, Lafayette Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Tim Nation

Executive Director, Peace Learning Center

Jim Poyser

Executive Director, Earth Charter Indiana

Bowden Quinn

Director, Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter

Ron Alting

State Senator (R), Indiana 22nd District (Tippecanoe County)

Kaitlyn Young

Co-Facilitator, Lafayette Climate

Barbara Clark, Deanna McMillan, Elizabeth Jones

Co-Executives, League of Women Voters - Greater Lafayette

Peter Bunder, Gerald Thomas, Shannon Kang, Larry Leverenz, Kathy Parker, James Blanco

President, Vice President, Elected Representatives,

West Lafayette City Council

Khloe Goodman

President, Harrison Students for Environmental Protection Club

Executive Board

Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light

 

1. The number should be much larger because of the student government signatures, but without every last college senator signing, the exact number for each college is unquantifiable; the number includes students from each organization and the petition thus far: https://www.carbonneutralindiana.org/purdue-university-carbon-neutral-petition

2. http://reporting.secondnature.org

3. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/3/5/21155020/companies-carbon-neutral-climate-positive

4. https://www.tranetechnologies.com/en/index/sustainability/our-2030-commitments.html

5. https://carbonneutralcities.org/cities/#:~:text=The%20Carbon%20Neutral%20Cities%20Alliance,undertaken%20anywhere%20by%20any%20city

6. https://environment.harvard.edu/news/faculty-news/how-think-about-costs-climate-change