MIT students are making a change in campus life through volunteering. As part of a special feature, the AltrUHelp blog will spotlight several MIT student organizations that are creating a big impact on campus. In our first post we explored the impact of Lean on Me. Get to know a group of bright and motivated people who strive to actively work for the better!Fossil Free Logo

Fossil Free MIT—Volunteers Sit in for Sustainability

On October 21, MIT released its climate action plan, the Institute’s agenda for climate change. A group of students felt that the plan lacked ambition and wasn’t advanced enough to match MIT’s long held stance of developing forward technology in the field of clean energy. The next day, that group created Fossil Free MIT. Its aim is to push for carbon neutrality, for the construction of an ethics advisory council, and for fossil fuel divestment.

For Jeremy Poindexter, one of the original members of the movement, the drive to make the sit-in successful comes in part from an expectation of leadership and integrity from MIT in clean energy, which is “the exact institution that is good at grappling with those tough questions.” Since MIT and fossil fuel companies hold a complex relationship, he also hopes that the volunteer movement will foster an environment for more honest and direct communication about such issues. In that particular aspect, Poindexter adds, Fossil Free MIT has already been successful.

Fossil Free MIT volunteers signed up to sit outside the President’s and Provost’s offices, a prime spot for volunteers to start conversations with the administration and students walking by. They aim to spark discussion and to extend the conversation to outside communities, such as student groups from Harvard, Boston College, and city council candidates. In fact, on the 11th day of their sit in, the climate change group from University of Utas in Tasmania sent a message of support to Fossil Free MIT through Facebook.

Over 120 volunteers have participated in the sit-in, which following the regular school year, has run continuously since its conception. After a whopping 116 days, their sit-in garnered the attention of The Boston Globe. “When we do something at MIT, we do it thoroughly,” said Nina Lytton, a 1984 graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Fossil Free MIT was in it for the long haul; but they did not have to wait long. On March 1st the sit-in and negotiations finally came a head. As reported by MIT’s New Office, The Institute has established a climate advisory committee and has set a goal of a 32% or greater reduction in carbon emissions by 2040. Now, FFMIT is working to implement these initiatives.

Fossil Free MIT has grown into a global network that connects and inspires other universities around the world! Would you like to contribute? Would you like to get involved? To learn more about Fossil Free MIT, visit their page here.

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