Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.29
Liaison Holly Andersen
Submission Date March 30, 2022

STARS v2.2

Bennington College
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.67 / 2.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:

The College board of trustees, President, and Senior staff all support and engage with the local community in a number of ways. Much local outreach is performed through the College's Center for the Advancement of Public Action, a program and building that began in 2011. Between local food procurement, energy efficiency, and electrification, the leadership of the College engages extensively with the local community.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:

A variety of Bennington College contingencies regularly engaged with Bennington County organizations, local governments, and leaders working on carbon neutrality, sustainability, and cutting-edge strategies that touch on government policies, utility infrastructure, and more efficient ways to engage and empower community members to become more sustainable. Examples are below:

During this reporting time frame, Senior staff member David Rees was Vice Chair of the Bennington County Regional Planning Commission, working with other representatives in the county to implement the BCRC Energy Plan, as well as Forest Stewardship. https://www.bennington.edu/about/college-leadership/david-rees

Andrew Schlatter, the Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management, served as the Treasurer for the State of Vermont Chapter of AIA, working with design professionals in the state by reviewing Vermont's Residential Building Energy Standards (RBES) and advocated for stricter compliance/enforcement mechanisms to hold contractors accountable to energy standards.
Advocated for registration of residential building contractors in Vermont to encourage training and compliance of contractors with energy standards (RBES in particular).
Organized annual meetings of the Committee on the Environment (COTE), a committee of the national AIA that promotes and advocates for sustainability issues in the design professions.

Bennington College, faculty and staff member Brian Campion serves in the state legislature (https://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2020/24030) and serves on the senate committee for natural resources and energy.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:

(For reporting in Academic Year 2019/20) May 17, 2017 Mariko Silver joined other leaders to let the Trump administration know that we are "Still In" after the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. She was on the board of second nature while she was a president at Bennington College. In this role she supported the initiatives that further the mission of Second Nature and the American College and University President's Climate Commitment. In this same vein, she supported the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Initiative, signing an open letter, as follows: University presidents are community leaders and highly influential with their members of Congress. Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Our Climate call on leaders in higher education to demonstrate support for carbon pricing. Rather than asking presidents to commit to a specific policy proposal (carbon fee and dividend), we ask them to endorse a climate solution that allows for flexibility in the way carbon pricing is implemented. The endorsements are shared with members of Congress and the higher education community.

As leaders of higher education institutions, we call upon our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of current and future generations by putting a price on carbon. We work to prepare our students for thriving futures, over which climate change casts a dark shadow of uncertainty. Putting a price on carbon pollution is an indispensable step we can take to effectively combat climate change.

Carbon pricing creates an economy-wide incentive to reduce greenhouse gases in economically efficient ways that can, if revenues are used wisely, benefit low-income households while stimulating job growth. The World Bank has endorsed carbon pricing as a way to accurately account for the external costs of emissions, like crop loss, flood damage, and medical treatments that result from heat waves and other climate change disasters. Thousands of businesses support carbon pricing for its transparent and predictable approach.

Dozens of countries and jurisdictions across the world have already enacted carbon pricing mechanisms, and the evidence is in: carbon pricing enables renewable energy to flourish, helps phase out polluting energy sources, and lowers emissions. A strong carbon price will rise quickly enough to work without burdening low-income and middle-class families, and won’t create new dependencies on profits from carbon-based energy.

It is time for the United States to lead on this defining issue of our time, and protect the health and well-being of current and future generations. By making carbon-intensive industries pay a fair share of the costs of their pollution, we will have cleaner air and healthier communities, and prevent the most devastating effects of climate change. We therefore ask our elected officials to proactively work to enact a carbon price on the state and national level.

Founding Signers:
1. Valerie Smith, President, Swarthmore College
2. Neil Weissman, Interim President, Dickinson College
3. Michael S. Roth, President, Wesleyan University
4. Jon Chenette, Interim President, Vassar College
5. Melvin Oliver, President, Pitzer College

Leadership Circle:
6. Leon Botstein, President, Bard College
7. Robert Goldberg, Interim President, Barnard College
8. Mariko Silver, President, Bennington College
9. Dianne Harrison, President, California State University Northridge
10. Gayle E. Hutchinson, President, California State University Chico
11. Robert S. Nelsen, President, California State University Sacramento
12. Greg P. Smith, President, Central Community College Nebraska
13. David Finegold, President, Chatham University
14. Brian W. Casey, President, Colgate University
15. Katherine Bergeron, President, Connecticut College
16. Lee Pelton, President, Emerson College
17. Marco Valera, Fordham University
18. Daniel R. Porterfield, President, Franklin and Marshall College
19. Robert Allen, President, Green Mountain College
20. Kim Benston, President, Haverford College
21. Lewis E. Thayne, President, Lebanon Valley College
22. Jo Ann Rooney, President, Loyola University Chicago
23. Brian Rosenberg, President, Macalester College
24. Sonya Stephens, Acting President, Mount Holyoke College
25. John I. Williams, Jr., President, Muhlenberg College
26. David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College
27. Wim Wiewel, President, Portland State University
28. Thomas J. Schwarz, President, Purchase College, SUNY
29. Kathleen McCartney, President, Smith College
30. Melik Peter Khoury, President, Unity College
31. Nicholas B. Dirks, Chancellor, University of California Berkeley
32. Andrew J. Leavitt, President, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
33. Paula A. Johnson, President, Wellesley College

Mariko also signed a letter to then President Elect Trump:
Dear President-elect Trump,

As do you, we “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.” In order to maintain the trust required for such productive engagement, it is essential that we immediately reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression, and freedom from discrimination. As college and university presidents, we commit ourselves to promoting these values on our campuses and in our communities, and we stand alongside the business, nonprofit, religious, and civic leaders who are doing the same in organizations large and small.

In light of your pledge to be “President for all Americans,” we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate, and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office. In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students, and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.

One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable. As President-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:

Mariko Silver was a panelist at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit: Reflections on Action and Impact, while she was on the board of directors for Second Nature. During this summit, climate leaders from all over the world to convene to address the climate crisis. As a result of this summit, Mariko was a signatory of the Call to Action for Higher Education Leadership, a letter offering eight steps that need to be taken immediately.

1. Consistent with our sector’s mission, expand educational opportunities for future generations of climate leaders with new academic majors, co-curricular programs, and community engagement.
2. Review and refine our climate action plans to ensure our goals are consistent with benchmarks established by the best available science, reflect the urgency of the challenge, and emphasize inclusivity and equity. Mobilize institutional resources to invest in transformative climate solutions, demonstrate what is possible, and stimulate widespread market adoption.
3. Leverage our role as anchor institutions and engaged members of our communities to drive solutions that serve all, especially those who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change.
4. Account for the full, long-term costs of our institutional activities, including those that negatively impact people and the planet, and strive to measure, internalize, and avoid these costs to the greatest extent possible.
5. Create applied research and/or educational initiatives that support our public sector’s climate goals and explore enhancement opportunities that support the development of vibrant communities, economic prosperity, and social equity.
6. Host and participate in cross-sector climate activities that facilitate open exchanges of ideas and foster civil dialogue while striving to ensure all members of the community are represented.
7. Advocate for climate policies that support equitable and just climate solutions, consider climate impacts in the institution's goals at all levels of decision-making, and lend support to other leaders who are advocating for shared outcomes.
8. Consider ways to align endowment investments with scenarios for meeting science-based climate goals and transitioning to low-carbon economy by reducing climate risk in the portfolio, investing in inclusive climate solutions, and engaging with companies and the finance sector to accelerate equitable climate actions.

In conclusion, we have taken action, but we resolve to do more. We believe leveraging all of our strengths as higher education institutions is critical to making this happen. We will help lead the nation in these efforts, and we urge other higher education leaders to join us in moving society
towards a more sustainable, healthy, and prosperous future.


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):
A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

We are a not for profit and do not make political donations.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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