This past Thursday marked a significant event for Ohio University. The arrival of renowned climatologist Lonnie Thompson in the Walter Hall Rotunda to give his presentation “Climate Change: The Evidence, People and Our Options” has been a pretty big deal over the past month or so, and I’m proud to say it went off without a hitch. Well, almost.
While preparing for the event, I heard that our very own President McDavis would be attending the presentation. “That’s great news!” I thought. “Maybe now someone in the OU administration will realize how crucial this issue is.” And I wasn’t the only person to feel so excited—the Sierra Student Coalition, students and faculty from the Geography and Environmental Studies programs, and those from political and scientific disciplines alike were all impressed by the President’s gesture of solidarity. It is, after all, the biggest problem facing our survival today.
I’m sure, as logical human beings, none of you doubts the existence of climate change. If you’ve ever doubted, though, I’d encourage you do a little research of your own, specifically into how carbon emissions, like those from the OU Lausche coal plant and the future methane gas plant, are only worsening the issue at hand.
McDavis’ attendance, I was certain, would be a huge leap forward. Dr. Thompson’s evidence might have pushed us into action. It might have been the final straw that broke our fossil fuel dependence, so to speak.
And yet five minutes into the presentation, feeling enthused and excited, I sought out President McDavis in the front row only to see his head rolled back and his eyes closed. That’s right…the president of our university was asleep in the middle of a student- hosted event addressing a HUGE concern held by many students, faculty and community members. It was an embarrassment. It took every ounce of willpower within in me not to stand up and shout at him in the middle of everything: “How can you do that? Who do you think you are? Don’t you care? Why did you even come? Why did you even pretend to be interested if you were just going to sit there and nap while someone tells you that we’re not doing it right?”
I’m sickened, disgusted, horrified… even feeble attempts to laugh it off among my friends and myself did little to dislodge the anger that I still feel. So this is what our administration thinks? So this is how they react to problems concerning students? It’s no wonder that they don’t listen to our similar concerns about rape culture, power disparity, and tuition hikes.
I’m relieved to say that McDavis woke up when Dr. Thompson started to mention Ohio State’s improvements in sustainability. Granted, that was the last 15 minutes of the presentation. I wish that I could sleep as well as he can when faced with the implications of our administration’s bad policies.
I’ve lost respect for this administration. Stop acting like you care what the students want. Thank you, President McDavis, for showing your true colors. I’m done trying to politely persuade you to do the right thing for once. We will do what it takes: sit-ins, protests, and use of student power to do the talking for us.
Students: do something. Your university doesn’t care. It’s time to show them that you do.
Caitlyn McDaniel is a junior studying international studies at Ohio University.