Keep Austin Wizard is petitioning the University to convert to entirely renewable energy sources by 2035.
The local student chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization run primarily by Harry Potter fans, is collaborating with Environment Texas, an advocacy project of Environment America. Environment Texas wrote the petition and gave it Claire Norris, president of Keep Austin Wizard, to collect signatures on campus.
The organization plans to send the petition to UT President Greg Fenves by the end of the year and organize a meeting with him to discuss further action. Norris said the Harry Potter Alliance uses fandom to organize people for activism, which is a major theme throughout the book series.
“The (Harry Potter) books promote this sense of community and togetherness,” Norris said. “That’s a really big theme in Harry Potter. That’s why I really enjoy what the Harry Potter Alliance does in its approach to organizing. They take this already existing community that’s a fandom, and they bring them together to do something good.”
Every year, the alliance chooses a different service theme for the chapters to pursue in their universities. Most efforts are centered around education and literacy, but next year Keep Austin Wizard will focus on environmental projects, starting with this petition. Environment Texas’ petition uses other universities such as Southwestern University and Austin College as a model for sustainability and
recommends UT follow their example.
“These campuses’ dedication to tackling climate change has earned them a well-deserved spot among the nation’s top colleges and universities that are leading the shift to clean, renewable energy,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas. “Their leadership is an example that should inspire higher education institutions across the country to transition using renewable energy sources.”
Keep Austin Wizard has planned several other environmental service projects for next year, such as adopting a river to clean up and building sustainable housing for the homeless population. Mia Ramirez, president-elect of Keep Austin Wizard, plans to implement more service projects and increase the members’ participation, while also including more social activities for the organization.
“I hope to work with the Keep Austin Wizard officer team to establish a cohesive volunteering campaign focusing on promoting the literacy and protecting the environment,” said Ramirez, neuroscience junior. “We will continue our conversation with Environment Texas to see how else we can promote sustainability on campus at a policy level.”