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LETTER: Hopeful about sustainability

One of the University’s most notable recent accomplishments, in my mind, is the push for environmental sustainability on Grounds. New buildings are being constructed with higher green standards. Dorms participate in competitions for energy conservation. The U.Va. Sustainability organization has increased Earth Week festivities and initiated a Sustainability Forum to encourage ongoing discussion of conservation and green living across the University. Green organizations across Grounds are beginning to team up with student ministries and other groups that share the same environmental values, realizing the strength in a united voice. The list, quite simply, goes on and on.

The dedicated green mission of the University, as well as the motivation and determination of the students involved in this movement, is truly inspiring. There is, however, more work to be done. Responsible stewardship of creation has risen to a level of great moral urgency. Climate change represents a dire, urgent threat and now is the time to act in order to halt extensive and irreversible damage. We have the right momentum and inclination; now let's step it up.

As a powerful and well-known university, we are in the unique position of being able to inspire other institutions with our own actions. Resolute action on our part can, and assuredly will, have far- reaching ripple effects. As well, with a nearly three billion dollar endowment from 2014-2015 alone, we certainly have the resources at our disposal to enact real change. I would ultimately like to see the University begin to heavily invest in sustainable energy sources, not just for our personal use, but for a wider audience. I would like to see divestment from fossil fuels now, while we still have time to make real change. I would like these movements to be the catalyst for a stronger University-wide movement for climate change that could in turn be inspiration for other institutions, as well as our local and national political leaders, to take up the cause. We have a moral duty to care for the earth we have been given.

The University clearly has a strong body of students and leaders that believe in this cause and would certainly support a stronger push in this direction. Passion drives the people that make up this exemplary place. This is a particularly momentous and necessary cause, and we need just that passion to drive this movement. This is why I have hope: I have seen the individuals of this school unite together and create real change. I hope to see it again soon.

Emily Churchill is a fourth-year in the College.