From Wednesday, Oct. 20 to Monday, Oct. 25, Eco-Rollins collected petition signatures with a twist. Oct. 20 was the sixmonth anniversary of the explosion of the oil rig and the start of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In memory of the disaster and in an effort to convince the government that a change in energy sources is needed, Eco- Rollins took photos of students holding a whiteboard reading “I DO NOT SUPPORT DIRTY ENERGY!” followed by each student’s signature. The photos will be sent as hard copies and via e-mail to Tallahassee. Additionally, Eco-Rollins is deciding on a congressional representative to send the petition photos to along with an explanation of why people are insisting on change. Eco-Rollins hopes that sending in photos instead of simply a list of signatures will make this petition more personal and harder to ignore.
For Kristin Urban ’12, who came up with the initial idea for the photo-petition, it was about the potential for youth to effect change. “For the people who are tied to the area, the effects of using a non-renewable resource are being felt, and strongly. A change is needed, and the people can bring this change. The change starts with the government, who are here to serve us and not oil companies. Thinking this over, I realized I needed to make it clear to representatives in Tallahassee that the people are going to demand a change in the way our energy is brought about. So, I came up with the photo-petition idea.”
Robert Watson ’12 suggested that students add their signatures to the sign for each photo (taken by Alli Hensch ’13), and Eco-Rollins approved the idea. Eco-Rollins set a goal to take photos of roughly 13 percent of Rollins’ student population (180-210 students). As of Friday, Oct. 22, they had taken 177 pictures, some of which featured multiple students per photo.
For students who are concerned about dependency on non-renewable energy sources, getting involved with Eco-Rollins or simply taking advantage of opportunities like the photopetition are easy ways to make a difference.
Six Eco-Rollins students attended the Southeastern Student Renewable Energy Conference earlier this month in Athens, Ga. Although the oil spill has passed out of the media’s limelight, it still impacts the daily lives of many people, some of whom spoke at the conference and inspired the Eco-Rollins members.
For those not directly affected by a disaster such as the BP oil spill, the impact and resulting impetus for change can fade quickly. Of course, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not the only energy resource problem, but its scope makes it hard to ignore. Although BP is committed to “continued efforts to restore the Gulf Coast,” according to the company website, it will be a long time before the damage is reversed. Recent news indicates that a substantial amount of oil is on the sea floor, and an investigation is underway to determine if the discoloration recently noticed on the surface of the Gulf may be an oil slick from the BP spill. According to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, BP is required to pay for all cleanup related costs of the spill, but it can only be forced to pay up to $75 million in damage claims. In an article posted online Oct. 15, the Courthouse News Service reported that BP may seek to use the damage cap, which would be a reversal of its previous position that it would “pay whatever is necessary to clean up its mess.”