Several students from various campus organizations centered around sustainability and climate justice held a series of meetings to discuss the revitalization of the Environmental Solidarity Network (ESN) over the Spring 2023 semester. The organizers are seeking to restructure the group in a way that establishes communication between campus clubs, promotes accessible avenues of sustainability, and creates a platform for environmental advocacy and activism on campus and in Middletown. 

Eco-Facilitator Co-Coordinator B Frankenstein’25, one of the students re-introducing the initiative, expressed their hope to provide a cohesive, all-encompassing student-led sustainability organization. The ESN originally collapsed during the onset of COVID-19 with little institutional memory preserved, making this development especially important.

“A major problem with the sustainability scene on campus as of now is the lack of connection,” Frankenstein wrote in an email to The Argus. “Two students could pursue the same project without ever hearing of each other, and both problems will run out of momentum before accomplishing the goal. We want to be a space where problems can be addressed as a team and where we can rally behind common issues.”

During the initial interest meeting on Sunday, April 23, students discussed some of the most pressing issues related to climate justice and sustainability on campus and in the broader Middletown community. The topics that they considered included the barriers to entry for sustainability efforts on campus, a lack of administrative support for structural efforts oriented toward climate justice, and the lack of accessibility to and knowledge about environmental action experienced by students who don’t work in the Sustainability Office.

The group’s organizers held a follow-up meeting on Sunday, May 7 to draft a mission statement and constitution that solidified their practical goals. Frankenstein noted that joining the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) is one such goal in ensuring the organization’s long-term success. 

“A big reason that we want to join the JCCP is to allow work-study students to be paid for sustainability work on campus,” Frankenstein wrote. “We believe that this is an important step towards making sustainability accessible. We are also hoping that joining the JCCP will help ensure the longevity of ESN, as we want it to last long after we graduate.”

The ESN mission statement comments on the importance of serving as a metaphorical switchboard to connect groups with others interested in pursuing similar issues. Sustainability Strategic Plan Ambassador Isaac Moss ’25 expanded on what that aspect of the ESN’s mission might look like in coming semesters.

“To ‘act as a switchboard’ is to create a space where sustainability efforts cannot happen in a vacuum, to make sure people know what is happening, and who is doing what, and to connect people with the resources that they need,” Moss wrote in an email to The Argus. “I also envision us acting as a living archive of environmental efforts on campus—to store information on what projects have been done, who did them, and what still needs to be done in order to maintain a more sustainable campus.”

The mission statement also outlines the organization’s goals to hold the University accountable for institutional claims and policies, provide educational materials to inspire collective action, act as an archive for sustainable processes, and build momentum between environmental stakeholders. Sustainability Coordinator Lily Krug ’24 expressed optimism that the ESN will become a central organization to accomplish those and other sustainability-oriented goals.

“I think the ESN has the potential to be a wonderful community for like-minded people,” Krug wrote in an email to The Argus. “I want people who aren’t directly involved in sustainability on campus to join the space as well as those who are directly involved. Ultimately, sustainability and environmental justice touch every facet of campus and we are attempting to create a community where we can connect, advocate, and organize around those issues.”

The organizers hope to create an open, collaborative space for all students and stakeholders, regardless of previous experience with sustainability. 

“With the ESN, we’re creating a space where students who are doing all sorts of different sustainability projects can come together in order to share knowledge, and resources, and organize for a common goal,” Moss wrote. “All people have to do is show up. I don’t have experience in policy-making or organizing, but I do know how to farm and how to garden. No matter what, we want to hear from you, and we want you to show up.”

Students interested in joining the ESN or sharing their thoughts about sustainability on campus can contact Frankenstein at

Sulan Bailey can be reached at

Lyah Muktavaram can be reached at  

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