Lake Osceola event follows Shalala affirming commitment to environment

Sporting bright orange T-shirts, hundreds of University of Miami students, faculty, and staff “hugged” Lake Osceola at the center of campus early Wednesday afternoon. A strand of approximately 500 people joined hands and stretched to cover nearly the entire perimeter of the lake.

Before surrounding the lake, the group congregated on the UC Patio, where President Donna E. Shalala signed two environmental documents. By signing the Talloires Declaration and the Presidents Climate Commitment, Shalala hopes to “lead the way for other universities.”

“My signatory today is to commit all of us-not just the president of the university, all of us-to make sure we follow best practices wherever we are on this earth,” she said.

A burst of applause marked Shalala’s signature of the documents, which have been signed by hundreds of other university presidents and chancellors to symbolize commitment to environmental sustainability.

Student organizations Earth Alert, Greenpeace UM, the Marine and Atmospheric Science Honor Society, Sustainable U and Society of Scientists were present

Jenny Burrows of Sustainable U was pleased with the day’s events but wants students to continue actively supporting the environment. She added that students should be more mindful of limiting use of water and electricity in on-campus housing.

“They don’t pay for it, so they’re not seeing how much they’re actually wasting,” she said.

After students hugged the lake, photographers stationed atop Hecht Residential College’s McDonald Tower documented the event and Shalala was handed a microphone for closing remarks.

“Let’s do something special for our friends at Virginia Tech,” she said.

In honor of the university recently struck by tragedy, Shalala led a hearty “Let’s Go Hokies” cheer that echoed across the lake.

Afterwards, the large group filed back to the patio, where they were served pizza as university mascot Sebastian circulated, offering thumbs-up to the participants.

Hunter Umphrey may by contact at