The City of Ithaca unanimously voted to ban leasing its land for hydraulic fracturing last Wednesday. Cornell University has its own moratorium on horizontal drilling. Ithaca College, however, has not yet barred fracking from its lands.
In an email response to protesters from Frack Off, an on-campus organization, President Tom Rochon said the college was committed to sustainability. But for an institution that prides itself on being progressive and eco-friendly, the college has still failed to join efforts to ban natural gas drilling. This has driven students and faculty to rally for the protection of its land and water, and the quality of life this preservation gives to the community.
While it is highly unlikely the college would lease its lands for drilling, prohibiting this action sends a powerful message to surrounding areas. It positions us as an institution that values relations with its ecologically minded community, both on and off campus. If the college fails to ban fracking, it could jeopardize the integrity of academic programs that emphasize ecology, as students could easily view the school as hypocritical.
To secure the environmental and health benefits that a drill-free area offers, the college should emulate the community and agree to openly ban and advocate for the removal of unsafe forms of hydraulic fracturing.