That’s the title of a Facebook message that arrived at my inbox today. It was sent from the University of Toronto’s Student Union (UTSU) and it basically urged interested students to apply for a position for UofT’s student delegation that is going to attend the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December. The message included a link to UofT’s Environmental Resource Network which explained all the details about the application process. Extended application deadline: October 5th (that is tomorrow!).
While I am not a UofT student any more, I couldn’t help but wonder how many students were notified of this opportunity in the beginning of September when they were choosing their courses. The convention takes place from December 5th to 18th, 2009, which is exactly exam period for most north-american universities. If you read the application page, it mentions that students who wish to participate will probably have to ask their registrar’s office to defer their December exams and take them in February — a request that might or might not be satisfied.
This brings up some interesting questions: how many students are going to realistically be able to attend the conference and is the University willing to make it easier for them to attend? Will the university grant exam deferrals for this reason? As far as I know exam deferrals are granted for situations of medical (or other) emergencies, but I might be mistaken. What other support will this delegation need from the university?
And, since every time you ask for something you’d better have something to “bring to the table,” what role does the UofT delegation hope to play in the convention? Will they participate in peaceful demonstrations? Are they going to meet with delegations from other universities? Are they going to act as journalists, providing the latest news to the UofT community through blogging? Are they going to be given the opportunity to actually talk to any politicians? (I’m not referring to heads of states, of course, but perhaps to some of their representatives…) How many people does this delegation need to have in order to accomplish its goals?
I have no idea how things like this are organized, and how the voices of all these delegations are going to reach the ears of politicians, but I sincerely hope that they have some sort of an impact, and that everyone who’ll participate is going to be committed enough not to regard this trip solely as an opportunity for tourism. There are far better places to visit in December than Copenhagen.
PS: the Climate Thinkers Blog might be of interest.