TAMPA — By unanimous consent, senators from the University of South Florida’s student government association have passed a resolution calling for the university to generate 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2040.
Environment Florida Research and Policy Center and the Florida PIRG Campus Action launched the 100% Renewable Campus campaign at USF in the winter of 2021. The campaign urges President Currall to put the University of South Florida on a path to powering all operations with clean, renewable energy by no later than 2040, and for all electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.
Since the launch in January, students have been working to build and demonstrate broad public support for a complete transition to clean energy. They held a kickoff meeting in February with over 110 students and staff in attendance, have collected over 400 petitions, and have had over 100 faculty and staff engage in the campaign, such as sharing information and endorsing the campaign.
“From our record-breaking kickoff event to the student organizations we’ve engaged, and partnerships we’ve developed with key players, like student government and athletics, this campaign has shown that sustainability isn’t just a pillar of our education here at USF,” said Jona Skendaj, vice president of the Florida PIRG Campus Action Club at USF. “But that climate change is a priority issue that students and staff collectively are ready to tackle together.”
This resolution comes less than one week after students at the University of West Florida and the University of Central Florida passed similar resolutions. This makes the USF student government the fourth school to formally call for a campus commitment to 100% renewable energy. In the spring of 2020, students at Florida State University successfully campaigned to get the student government to pass a similar resolution, making it the first campus in the state of Florida to do so.
Jillian Wilson, a junior majoring in biomedical science, is a project assistant in the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and is one of six student senators co-sponsoring the resolution.
“Finding new and innovative ways to achieve clean energy should be everyone’s main focus. Fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources will run out within our lifetime,” said Wilson. “As a student leader and proud bull, I believe USF should and can lead the movement for colleges to move towards 100% renewable energy.”
Now that the SGA resolution has passed, it will be sent to President Currall’s desk. Students are planning to continue working with faculty, staff, and administrators to officially make USF the first university in the state to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.
“Bulls lead by example. By now, everyone should know that there will be disastrous consequences very soon if we don't change the way we live,” said Madysen Humphries, one of the Student Senators sponsoring the resolution, “To ignore the gravity of this situation we have created is to neglect future generations and the very Earth we call home.”
Environment Florida Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting Florida’s air, water, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help people make their voices heard in local, state, and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.
PIRG Campus Action is a national training and advocacy program started by the Student PIRGs and is based on a model that has been helping students make positive change for almost 50 years. PIRG Campus Action student clubs work with professional staff at colleges and universities to make sure our peers have the skills, opportunities and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. Our network on over 100 campuses provides the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more.