[About 10,000 students came together at Washington D.C. for PowerShift 2011 – Photo courtesy of Jose Rodriguez and EnergyActionCoalition]
Tread Lightly, the university’s sustainability club, became reinvigorated after PowerShift 2011 to spread its message at St. Bonaventure
By Lauren Caputi, contributing writer
WASHINGTON (May 23) – In a sea of about 5,000 students in green hardhats, with protest signs and puppets in hand, St. Bonaventure University senior Lauryn Klingler joined in a march down Pennsylvania Avenue to promote clean energy.
At PowerShift 2011, chants such as “Frack no, we won’t go” reverberated through the air as students marched from the United States Chamber of Commerce to British Petroleum headquarters to coal plant Gen On’s headquarters to Lafayette Square.
“I’m part of something really big here,” said Klingler, a political science major. “There’s nothing quite like it.”
Ten-thousand college students from across the country joined together in a convention center in Washington, D.C. for one purpose: rallying for a cleaner, more environmentally friendly earth.
Klinger said with clean energy at the beginning, the weekend delved into topics like climate change, fossil fuels, natural disasters and hydrofracking.
In addition to Klingler, three other members of Tread Lightly, St. Bonaventure’s sustainability club, attended PowerShift: juniors Greg Hoyos and Sinead Coleman and freshman Kyle Wilkinson.
“Rallying made me feel so small because of the crowd, but so large because we were all there for the same underlying cause. It was almost like a religious experience,” said Wilkinson, an environmental science major.
Hoyos, a business major from Hornell, joined the club because he has always enjoyed the outdoors, whether hiking, hunting, camping or fishing.
While at PowerShift, Hoyos said he wanted to address the way New York handles hydrofracking, or hydraulic fracturing.
Josh Fox, a keynote speaker at PowerShift, made a movie titled “Gasland,” which has been shown at St. Bonaventure to raise environmental awareness, said Sr. Suzanne Kush, director of the Franciscan Center for Social Concern.
As the faculty adviser of Tread Lightly, Kush said more students should pay respect to the earth because doing so upholds St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan tradition.
According to Fox’s website, Gaslandthemovie.com, “Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling.”
According to Gene Racz of mycentraljersey.com, fracking has been used extensively is western Pennsylvania, where it has opened up the previously inaccessible Marcellus Shale underground rock formation.
Hoyos said he has become so passionate about hydrofracking because the moratorium, or waiting period, to delay fracking in New York. The moratorium issued by Gov. David Paterson expires July 3.
Hoyos said if fracking begins in New York, it would be a serious threat to the state’s fresh water supply. Hydrofracking fluid contaminates the fresh water, making it unusuable and toxic.
Tread Lightly, which Coleman started herself as a recycling club, has expanded into encompassing a whole lifestyle focused on sustainability.
By enforcing the ideals of recycling and using less energy, Tread Lightly has made a difference on campus, said Coleman, a biology major.
Coleman said she turned campus from a place that had very little to no recycling habits into a regularly recycling hub by establishing proper signage around academic buildings and residence halls.
By learning how to communicate more effectively at PowerShift, Coleman and the others said they took away ideas to inspire Bonaventure students.
Coleman said by communicating more openly with faculty, students can influence their curriculum.
“No one’s heard of a sustainability minor because no one talks about it,” Coleman said.
After having attended PowerShift, Coleman plans to revamp and restructure Tread Lightly.
“We want to increase our numbers and PowerShift opened our eyes to making Bona’s a more eco-friendly place,” Wilkinson said.