Meadville Tribune

Local News

May 26, 2013

SUNDAY ISSUE: Green schools and fracking


MEADVILLE — A model for green care?

Not everyone on campus is opposed to fracking or the school’s decision-making process.

A student at the forum, Luis Guillen, 19, said he thought the school and Meadville area could benefit from drilling.

“It would bring a huge economic boost and the town would be revived after being in a depression for so long,” Guillen said after the meeting.

More than 27 percent of Meadville residents live below the poverty line, compared with 12.6 percent in Pennsylvania, according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Raymond Jozwiak, 19, a student member of the Bousson Advisory Group, praised the college for its transparency. In addition to the forums that allow for airing concerns, the group’s website allows comments about drilling.

“We are merely trying to help facilitate the discussion; it is purely a democratic thing,” Jozwiak said.

John Ubinger, senior vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the moderator of the April forum, said the school is doing the right thing by holding campus discussions.

“I think folks should acknowledge and recognize that what they’re doing is trying to inform their board of trustees …  (about) what the sentiment on the campus is,” Ubinger said.

‘Soiled money?’

Could Allegheny College do good things with revenue from shale drilling?

Steven Onyeiwu, an associate professor of economics at Allegheny, posed that question during the campus meeting.

“So that in the future people will begin to point to us and say, ‘See what Allegheny did with their oil and gas money,’” he said.

Lee, the vice president, said the school could use revenue from drilling for geothermal heating, retrofitting buildings and other improvements to help the school reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.

“Is it not possible to do good things with ‘soiled money?’” Onyeiwu asked.

Allegheny is a small school, with just 2,100 students. Tuition is about $155,000 for four years.

The college’s endowment is $160 million, Lee said, and many schools they compete with have larger endowments.

Some administrators think that revenue from drilling could be invested in the endowment, Lee said.

Onyeiwu said he hasn’t made up his mind on whether drilling would be a good idea for Allegheny, but he would like to see students have broader discussions about what the school could do to make the process safer and in line with its ideals.

“Unfortunately, I think, people's mindsets are based on, no,” he said.

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