This morning, we woke up to absolutely thrilling news. Project Green Challenge finalist and rising Sophomore at University of Delaware, Emily Behnke, has successfully led her peers in a victory against the school administration over plans to allow a fossil fuel power plant to be built on campus.
According to UD Working Group and Newsworks.org, the plant would generate significant amounts of “greenhouse gases with insufficient plans to capture and sequester carbon dioxide and the emission of other pollutants would have demonstrative and negative effects on UD’s commitments to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.” We were also told that once on line the plant would have been the third largest polluter in the state of Delaware.
When we began planning our Conscious College Road Tour (Spring 2014) stop at University of Delaware, Behnke knew that fighting the potential power plant needed to be the focus of the town hall meeting Town Hall meeting. Joining efforts with UD’s Blue Hens for Clean Air (student group) along with passionate Newark residents all motivated and intent upon stopping the development of the plant. Emily became a powerful and mobilizing catalyst!
It came time for the Town Hall meeting and the room was absolutely packed to capacity. Hundreds of students had flocked to hear powerful speakers and rally together (Chipotle catered dinner which certainly engaged the students!) It was because of the powerful advocacy on the parts of Behnke and her fellow student leaders others that previously uninvolved students stayed, returned for subsequent event planning meetings, and eventually made their voices heard!
With the great momentum spurred from the meetings, the group of activists initiated peaceful demonstrations (on campus and at a meeting of the Board of Trustees) and a “selfie” campaign in which students photographed themselves with handwritten commitments ad used social media to spread the word far and wide.
Their advocacy made all the difference! University of Delaware Administrators have officially announced that the power plant will not be constructed. Thursday morning, UD President Patrick Harker announced that the power plant plans (which also included a data center) were not fitting for the STAR campus. Harker released a statement saying, “We have been impressed with the level of passion, input and discussion surrounding this project.” He adds, “This is what makes a college campus exciting—students, faculty and community members are able to freely express themselves”–and win!
All of us here at Teens Turning Green are elated and so proud of the advocacy demonstrated by Emily and her peers. In her words,
“I know I can speak for all of the amazing activists in our Blue Hens for Clean Air group when I say that today’s news of the plans for the UD power plant being shut down left us both beyond elated and–to be honest– kind of shocked. So many times we faced dead-ends or stalemates in our fight, and so many times we were asked the question, ‘But is it even really possible to stop it now?’ We were always aware, in the back of our minds, that the odds were not particularly in our favor. But we never did let those thoughts get to us, and thus we were never willing to give up. Somehow, with the help of residents, professors, and the new students that joined us after Teens Turning Green’s visit, our little grassroots group (that which once met in the empty foyer of an old church like some underground conspirators) gradually became something bigger, and, we think, something influential. I had never really been involved in any kind of legitimate campaign before this one, but of the many things it has taught me, by far the most important is the knowledge that there is never an excuse for a small group of people–even just one person–to not at least try to make a difference.”
Change the World. Please, and Thank You! -Jenna xx