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Message from Sustainable GW

Meghan Chapple, Tara Scully, and Robert Orttung speak to the Sustainable GW community regarding recent racist incidents and related protests across the country.
June 2, 2020

Dear Sustainable GW Community,

The events of last week, including the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the hateful action against Christian Cooper in Central Park, are devastating and outrageous, and unfortunately, all too frequent examples of how deeply entrenched racism is in our society. Not only are we horrified by the decades of violence inflicted on Black Americans, but also by the disparate access to resources and higher exposure to risk experienced by the Black community. In addition to the direct violence delivered by people in power, indirect violent acts like the COVID-19 pandemic, pollution in our air and water, and lack of access to healthy food prove those disparities to be deadly.

Sustainable GW rejects racism and inequity in all its forms, including situations where Black people are not, and do not feel, safe in parks and other outdoor spaces. We envision a world with healthy and thriving resource systems for all. That includes doing our part to address the university's impact on the ecological systems that are meant to sustain all of us. We are committed to protecting and enhancing local ecosystems, and we continue to strive for carbon neutrality to reduce our contribution to climate change, which is already having a disproportionate impact on people of color and poor communities around the planet.

The protests in cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., show the pain and anguish felt by so many Americans, and the power of our voices in raising awareness of a racist system. Here at Sustainable GW we are committed to dismantling racism in our own movement and to creating an equitable and inclusive program. This year, Sustainable GW hosted student programs to address environmental justice in Washington, D.C., modified our own practices around hiring to be more inclusive, expanded our courses on environmental justice, and hosted the first sustainability focused session at the GW Diversity Summit, where we learned that we have much more work to do. Today we reaffirm our commitment to engaging the sustainability community in conversations about equity and justice in our movement, especially when those conversations reveal uncomfortable truths.

We stand in solidarity for a just and equal society. We believe we are better than this, that Black Lives Matter, and that we can build a better university and country going forward.


Meghan Chapple, Director of the Office of Sustainability

Tara Scully, Director of the Minor in Sustainability

Robert Orttung, Research Director for Sustainable GW

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