Freshly returned from the bright, sunny land of Minneapolis (not joking, actually), ASWC Sustainability Chair Dani Hupper and I have plenty of new ideas from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference.

Our abode for the trip was none other than the Ice Man’s loft. Seriously: the proprietor, well known around the local bar scene for his frosty craft, owns an ice sculpture company. We crashed at his place for our stay, and he provided some much-needed tips for places to go in the area. One night we took a short bike tour (shouts out to urban bike share programs!) around the uptown area to see some newer parts of the city. We also took a brief sojourn to St. Paul to visit Macalaster College, where some friends cooked us a lovely dinner.

The AASHE Conference was a whirlwind of at least 2000 people: mostly college students, but also some professors, administrators, and representatives from the private sector as well. The first day focused on the Student Summit, with sessions only for students, and speaker Dr. Eban Goodstein doing his best Al Gore impersonation. Throughout the day we talked to other students about banning plastic water bottles (Whitman, it turns out, is one of very few schools to have already done this) and fossil fuel divestment.

The workshops over the next couple of days taught some useful skills for interacting with both students and administrators.  Dani and I will be sure to use these in our work with the Whitman community. Specifically, the conference inspired the internal carbon tax legislation that ASWC just passed.  The tax will be implemented next year: students who seek money from the Travel and Student Development Fund will also include a calculation based on their distance and mode of travel in their request. ASWC will move the money earned from the tax to the Green Fund, a source for sustainable projects on campus. In addition, Campus Climate Challenge ran a Spring Break trip to the Navajo reservation last year to give some of its members personal experience with the real effects of the fossil fuel industry. I attended a session all about how to plan these kind of trips and ensure participants get the full experience from them. I hope to use these strategies for our return trip this year, and hopefully make it an annual event for CCC.

Throughout the conference, we were able to speak in depth with the Whitman Campus Sustainability Coordinator, Tristan Sewell, who was also in attendance. He gave us much-needed perspective on what has been tried already at Whitman, and what programs were feasible to complete. We also explored the exhibition hall, which meant talking to more than 50 different vendors of various sustainability-related products and programs. After hearing about recyclable graduation gowns from Oak Hill Cap & Gown, Dani and the ASWC Sustainability Committee investigated the possibility of using this material for Whitman’s graduation gowns. It turns out we already do! With the Living @ Whitman initiative in mind, I spoke to a group that trains cleaning staff to use safer products and methods in campus buildings. A trained custodial staff gets a building a free LEED point, so this could potentially be used in the new residence and dining halls, should they be approved.

AASHE provided Dani and me with lots of skills and ideas that will make their way into our campus work both immediately and in the long-term. We can’t thank the ASWC Executive Council enough for funding us to go, and we’re really looking forward to what else might come from this experience. Who says it’s not easy being green?

Mitchell Cutter, CCC President

Case Mastery

Over Thanksgiving break, the Finance Committee of the Associated Students of Whitman College helped the Whitman College Moot Court Team obtain funding to compete in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s Western Regional Competition in Anaheim, California. My fellow team captain Yu Jian Wang and I spent a significant amount of time preparing. We learned to analyze Supreme Court cases efficiently and effectively, gaining a deep understanding of Supreme Court and Circuit Court cases pertaining to the First and Fifth amendments to the United States constitution.

At the competition, we applied these cases to two separate challenges to the 2006 Fair Education Act. Specifically, we had to address claims that the Fair Education Act violated the Free Exercise rights of a specific religious institution and that the Act similarly burdened the Fifth amendment rights of an individual affected directly by it. Both of us had the opportunity to argue in front of real judges and attorneys on both sides of the issue.

The Whitman College Moot Court Team is a growing body. While only two students went to the competition this year, we plan to send larger groups in the future. The skills that Yu Jian and I developed and the cases we mastered will be a boon to the team in the future. The competition went well and the trip went off without a hitch.

If you are interested in getting in involved with Moot Court at Whitman, contact me, NoahLani Litwinsella, at litwinn@whitman.edu with questions.

Make Your Move: Chess Match Checks

The top five players from the Whitman College Chess Club traveled to Seattle in November play a match against the University of Washington. This event was the culmination of months of planning and multiple events, one of which was a campus-wide tournament that occurred on Halloween Day in Maxey. Shengjun Wang, myself, and Matthew Coppersmith tied for first place at that event. Matt Buswell received 4th, while Casey Schafer, Megan Gleeson, and Robin Rounthwaite tied for 5th. Due to various complications, we eventually settled on a top five for the match that was slightly different from our top five tournament finishers. Our order was #1 Shengjun Wang, #2 Garrett Atkinson (myself), #3 Matthew Coopersmith, #4 Richard Brown, and #5 Nikolaus Kennelly.

When we arrived, Odin Atkinson, the University of Washington team president, greeted us and gave us a campus tour in the rain (fitting weather, as those of us familiar with Seattle know). The following morning, the UW chess team hosted us for a breakfast at the The Cafe on The Ave. We flipped a coin to determine who would play white on three out of five of the boards, and Whitman won the coin toss. After breakfast, we practiced openings with the knowledge of the color of the pieces we would play that afternoon in the match. Around noon, we checked out of our hotel and headed to the Lyceum (a large room with seating in “the Hub” at the center of the University of Washington). Prior to the event, FIDE representative and UW Law Professor Walter Walsh spoke to us about the status of collegiate chess. It was exciting to learn that many schools have chess programs that compete nationally and sometimes internationally. Professor Walsh spoke highly of the Pan American College Chess championships in particular. He encouraged both UW and Whitman to consider fielding a team to attend.

The match began after the speech. Each player had one hundred and twenty minutes to make all of his moves. On board 1, Shengjun Wang, playing white, represented Whitman against International Master Shiven Khosla. On board 2, I had the black pieces against National Master Michael Omori. On board 3, our Matthew Coppersmith played white, facing Expert Ethan Bashkansky. On board 4, Whitman’s Richard Brown, playing black, squared off against Expert Richard Ding. And on board 5, our Nikolaus Kennelly had the white pieces against Felix Mylius. The Huskies prevailed in these games. However, they were all competitive; each one took more than twenty moves and featured a number of exchanges. A couple of the games lasted into the end game with only rooks and pawns remaining. After the contest was over, we conversed briefly with the UW chess team and told them that we anticipate hosting them next year.

We are extremely grateful that ASWC chose to fund our attendance of this event. We all enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about the game while meeting new people and growing as a club.

Garrett Atkinson