Protestors from IU climate action activism group Students for a New Green World gathered at Sample Gates on Friday to demand IU follow through with its proposals in its climate action plan, passed earlier this semester on Sept. 11. Talking to passersby and receiving support from honking cars traveling on Indiana Ave., the group often turned their megaphone directly south to Bryan Hall, where IU provost Rahul Shrivastav's office is located.
IU’s climate action plan was approved after a series of student protests in 2022 targeting student tour groups. The then-created climate action committee was directed by IU president Pamela Whitten to create recommendations to reduce IU’s greenhouse gas emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.
The released plan directed each of IU’s campuses to create offices of sustainability and implementation committees consisting of students, staff, faculty and subject matter experts.
However, the student activists present at Sample Gates said Shrivastav has not created these committees, or at least has not been transparent about their creation. Almost three months after the plan’s announcement, they expected more from the administration.
Junior Henry Wolfla, director of sustainability for IU Student Government, said he was disappointed with the inaction from Shrivastav.
“It’s disheartening that we put in all this work to get this plan done, and now it's just sitting there,” Wolfla said. “We have goals for 2040 carbon neutrality, every month we don’t do something that is more unrealistic.”
Sophomore protestor Sophie Dewael said she was disheartened by the lack of action coming from the plan. The climate action plan webpage’s news section does not list any progress since Jessica Davis was confirmed as IU’s first chief sustainability officer Sept. 15, 2024.
SNGW president Soha Vora said their optimism for change when the plan passed at the beginning of the semester has since been lost after the administration’s lack of progress.
“When you say, ‘climate action plan,’ there are two parts. One of them is action,” Vora said. “If they had even started on implementation, it would have been okay, but they have made zero steps.”
Vora said SNGW has been in discussion this semester with Davis and IU administration about implementation committees but still hasn’t seen it budge. She said SNGW originally advocated for a central planning committee rather than the current decentralized model split between campuses, but this was not feasible because of the way IU’s separate campuses are set up.
Afterward, they focused on ensuring an implementation committee would be created at IU Bloomington.
“They said they were working on it every single time we met with Davis,” Vora said. “Then we shifted focus to talking to her about our demands.”
Vora said Davis was open to SNGW’s demand of creating a transparency dashboard, but said this process still has not started.
Though no plans have been set concretely, Vora said they would continue to protest the issue if action is not taken. In an Instagram post advertising the protest, the caption reads, “We're still here....get ready for us next semester!”
IU provost Rahul Shrivastav and IU chief sustainability officer Jessica Davis were not immediately available for comment.