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President's Climate Commitment Put to the Test

An article in the May 14 Chronicle of Higher Education, "As Publicity Over Climate Pact Fades, a College Considers Its Worth", highlights the debate faced by many institutions contemplating becoming signatories of the President's Climate Commitment. The article highlights topics such as leaving a subsequent administration with the commitment; available resources to cover costs, particularly in the economic downturn; association of the institution with the political left, thereby alienating the right; being seen as chasing the 685 peer institutions already committed; potential energy savings and return on investment; necessary behavioral changes from faculty, administration, and students.

At the end of the day, it comes down to squaring these considerations with student expectations. Perry Dean has witnessed the escalation of interest in sustainability on the part of students, and we wonder whether there is an alternative to following the intent of the Commitment, if not the letter. Consequently, why not take advantage of the positive PR associated with becoming a signatory?