Several students of the University of Richmond coughed and fell to the ground in the campus forum Thursday afternoon. This "die-in" was an attempt by GreenUR to raise awareness of the coal plant on campus and the effects of its pollutants.
"We are here in solidarity with Green Peace and college campuses all across the country rallying for clean energy," said GreenUR spokeswoman Jenni Swegan.
Though many students seemed skeptical as they walked by, there seemed to be a definite impact made to some students.
Resident Advisor Giselle Adanlete was passing by the rally and said that she was inspired.
"I didn't know about the coal plant on campus," Adanlete said. "If more people gather, it can spread the word for improvements in the years to come."
Others had a less positive reaction. "While I believe whole-heartedly in the cause," freshman Anne Coglianese said, "my opinion is that these outlandish protests are more likely to yield rolled eyes from students than changed minds and committed hearts."
Despite these varied responses, GreenUR members said they remained excited about the fact that any sort of impact was made -- even the skeptic views were welcomed.
"I think it was good that we got people to ask questions," said GreenUR secretary Casey Shmidt. "Getting people aware and interested--this is just the first step."
The movement was not ignored by local media. Channel 8 news was there to cover the rally and interviewed Swegan and fellow GreenUR member Caroline Hansley. All of the participants gathered around the camera and alternated between two chants:
"What do we want? Clean energy!" and "Get off fossil fuels!"
Hansley said that the story was to be aired at both the five o'clock and six o'clock sessions. Swegan explained that they have covered a lot of ground in raising awareness this year. She said that they have already received 700 petitions out of the semester's 1000 petition goal to show President Ed Ayers the student and faculty support for 100 percent clean energy.
Select members of the club had the opportunity to speak with Ayers on Monday, Oct. 17, regarding how the situation will be approached.
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"He is definitely on our side and willing to work with us," Swegan said.
Shmidt said that some work would have to be done before a complete switch would be made.
"He would like to switch to clean energy, but he doesn't think it will work financially at this time," said Shmidt. "He said it will take away costs from offering financial aid and hiring teachers."
Shmidt said she felt this was presenting an unnecessary ultimatum. "I think there are other options and resources... other things that could be cut," she said.
GreenUR has participated in many events this year from organizing Environmental Awareness Week on campus to attending Virginia Power Shift held at Virginia Tech.
Contact reporter Caroline Merritt at firstname.lastname@example.org
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