Enviro students keep up momentum


The University of Wollongong (UOW) environment collective increased its activity this year, and established a formidable presence on campus. It is now playing a leading role in promoting grassroots climate action in the Illawarra.

The environment collective convenor for 2010, Patrick Harrison, told Green Left Weekly: "Part of the reason the collective has gone from strength to strength is because the members of the collective have been really developing skills and stepping up to fill the void of other organisations in the city."

Collective members have run vigorous local campaigns and engaged with national actions.

The collective's demands have been widely supported by UOW students. It presented the university with a petition of more than 2000 students, demanding the campus be run on 100% renewable energy.

"The renewable energy campaign reflects the national demands but also relates to the local issues we have been campaigning around dealing with the university management", said Harrison.

The university has been largely unresponsive to the demands of the collective. Vice-chancellor Gerard Sutton met members of the collective and said the administration's priority was to ensure the profitability of the university.

But Harrison said: "It [renewable energy] would end up paying for itself. Again, it is financially feasible but what is lacking is the political will."

The collective will take its demands to the university again in February, when it addresses the university council. But Harrison is not holding his breath. "We really hope they take it all on board and not just adopt tokenistic projects to promote a green image."

Next year, the collective plans to build on the momentum it has created this year.

"We will keep pushing for these demands and keep mobilising students behind the campaign for renewable energy", said Harrison. "We are pretty clear that the only way the administration is going to see the light on this issue is if it is forced to by the strong mobilisation of students."

The environment collective will lead Wollongong's Walk Against Warming rally on December 12.

This grassroots action aims to mobilise political support for decisive and immediate action on climate change. The rally will promote the creation of green jobs, oppose new coal and demand climate justice for developing nations.