Earlier this year, Amherst College announced a new fundraising campaign titled “Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century,” which pledges to raise $625 million for the college over the next five years. With this money, the college claims that it will focus on six unique goals, including improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) offerings, creating a stronger sense of unity on campus and continuing to attract outstanding professors and students. While we understand the importance of this campaign and appreciate the generosity of the college alumni, any discussion of Amherst College’s third century is incomplete without discussing the imminent threat that climate change poses to our planet.
A groundbreaking climate report issued a few weeks ago showed that by 2050, the United States will suffer from countless devastating effects of climate change — notably hotter summers, longer droughts, increased flooding and irreparable harm to our communities. Countless cities across the world, including many that Amherst students call home, will become uninhabitable, forcing millions of people to seek new homes as climate refugees. It is unlikely that the Amherst College of 2121 will be anything like the Amherst College of 2021, let alone that of 1821.
Therefore, we, the Association of Amherst Students, implore the Board of Trustees of Amherst College to adopt the Climate Action Plan so that we can achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Amherst College cannot continue to present itself as an institution that “prepare[s] students to make a difference in the world” while playing a role in that same world’s destruction; we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to stop climate change and protect our planet for generations to come. Only when Amherst College signs on to the Climate Action Plan and moves towards carbon neutrality can we truly say that we are making a promise for our third century.
We cannot let our second century be our last.