President’s speeches, letters, and articles
Subject: Global Climate Strike
September 18, 2019
Dear Reed students, faculty, and staff,
676—that is the number of signatures from students, professors, and staff who signed the Global Climate Strike petition organized by Reed student activists. The work the student organizers have done is meaningful, and the number of signatures they were able to collect in a relatively short amount of time amazes me. Our students have been working incredibly hard to have productive and open conversations around campus about how to effectively organize this strike in a way that respects the concerns of Reed's faculty and staff. They eloquently represent the concerns of Reed community members who understand the urgency of climate change.
Yesterday, Kris Anderson, professor of psychology and chair of the Committee on Academic Policy and Planning, and I met with student organizers Hayden Hendersen, Giselle Herzfeld, and Billy Fish. Kris and I commended them for their incredible work, and we discussed how we are eager to see what we can do to elevate Reed’s commitment to sustainability together. I also explained that I deeply respect and uphold Reed’s commitment to community governance and faculty autonomy. Therefore, I am not in the position to universally grant a campus closure for the purpose of the Global Climate Strike.
Earlier this week, Dean of the Faculty Nigel Nicholson communicated to faculty that they hold the authority to decide how to handle classes on September 20. This means that students should consult with their professors if they desire to participate in the Global Climate Strike during a time that conflicts with their class(es). Additionally, I share with all of you an email that went out to staff members from the student activists about their Reed Climate Strike Plan 9/20–9/27. If a staff member wants to participate during work hours in the Global Climate Strike, I encourage them to speak with their supervisor.
In addition to recognizing the student activists for their work related to the Global Climate Strike, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing efforts and achievements made by many Reed community members in their commitment to support sustainability. The Sustainability Committee comprises faculty and staff and includes two student sustainability coordinators who serve as a resource for campus sustainability questions, concerns, and ideas. Members of that committee support many of Reed’s programs and goals around sustainability. I also recognize SEEDS, Students for Education, Equity, and Direct Service, which is focused on building and sustaining programs that foster positive, healthy change in the world. Students interested in climate justice can work with SEEDS to access opportunities and programs.
I believe that educating students to become leaders in areas that will help mitigate climate change is one of the single most important things Reed can do related to sustainability. While all disciplines at Reed can play a role in this education, I point out the environmental studies (ES) program as an example. It is a primary academic connection to sustainability at Reed. The sustainability website highlights some of the essential work being done by students and faculty as part of the ES program. As described on the website, it is one of the largest standing interdisciplinary majors on campus with an explicit mission to bridge the natural sciences, social sciences, and history in an effort to prepare students for the multidimensional challenges inherent in environmental issues.
I will end here on Reed’s Sustainability Mission Statement. As a new member of the Reed community, I am eager to continue this important work and to engage in dialogue about how I can help Reed take action.
September 17, 2019
Student activists circulated a petition which got a total 676 signatures from students, professors and staff asking Reed to take a public stance in support of the Climate Strike. The petition specifically asked that any staff that choose to go on strike this Friday be compensated for their time, and that they not be penalized in any way for striking. While students were told today by the administration that this request would not be able to be universally granted, we encourage staff members who feel they are able to go on strike to speak with their supervisors and department heads about the strike. Due to the gravity of this issue, we sincerely hope that Reed staff members will join us in striking this Friday.
Our hope is that students, faculty, and staff can come together in solidarity to discuss how Reed as a college can respond ethically to this crisis, and take steps as an institution to promote a more sustainable future. As Reed students, we recognize how important all class time is-- we wouldn’t be asking for this interruption if we didn’t feel that it was necessary and important. Please let us know if there is anything else we can provide to aid productive conversations, or help with any inconvenience to your schedule.
Many more sustainable events are planned at Reed throughout the week of 9/22-9/27, including Sustainable Food Night, a Sustainable Landscape Design talk, Recycling Center training, and a talk by the Bon Appetit Sustainability Fellow. Check back to this document as it is updated with more events to attend.
Please feel free to email me or anyone else listed in these documents with any further questions or ideas.
Keep fighting the good fight,
(via Hayden Hendersen)