The Student Environmental Committee wanted to make Earth Day memorable this year, so they invited suggestions from the group and around campus to compile an Earth Week. The first event was a town hall on the sustainability of the College and fossil fuel investments in the endowment; the culminating event will be a screening of Thin Ice this upcoming Tuesday.
There were several contributions to this schedule from Clare Boerigter ’14, who wanted to invite representatives from a non-governmental organization from Costa Rica for which she previously volunteered. The film Dirt, which is inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of Earth, will be shown Monday at the request of Christian Noyce ’15.
Additionally, Chris Bair ’97 of Facilities Management has offered two campus tours. The first one, on April 12, focused on energy usage for the campus, and the second one, on April 26, on waste practices.
The event with the Costa Rican organization on Tuesday allowed students to learn how an NGO outside of the United States functions. Specifically, the presenters touched on how they contribute to the improvement of the community while focusing on environmental ambitions. The commitment of this organization is towards conservation, eco-tourism, community development and education.
“They try to bring the financial benefits of tourism to educating the greater community,” Boerigter said. “They facilitate group discussions and reforestation projects.”
For the more politically engaged, Earth Week offered a number of politically geared activities. Iowa state senator Rob Hogg volunteered to come and speak on the importance of climate change and what can be done to improve the situation on a state and national level. Meanwhile, Wednesday through Friday, students from SEC petitioned outside of the Dining Hall to get members of the community to pose with a sign explaining why they reject the plans for the Keystone Pipeline along with collecting signatories for a letter addressed to President Barack Obama resisting the plans for the pipeline.
The group said it was very pleased with how the events came together and how, from so many different perspectives, the national day was recognized with a week of activities. Earth Week represents the variety of subjects that students care about, but that they acknowledge that there is still plenty of work ahead.
“I am very happy with the diverse array of offerings we have during Earth Week and spilling over into the following week,” said co-president of SEC Liza Morse ’15. “It just shows how multifaceted environmental activism can be and I think that is important, for students to recognize that they can create meaningful change in so many different ways.”
The group is also hopeful that with more participation, they will be able to gain more support from not only students, but the administration as well. They also want students to know that there is no reason that efforts should be secluded to Earth Day or Week, but that these causes are to continue well beyond.
“One of the positive things about having so many events is raising awareness to administrators because when you get them involved you can get more financial support,” Boerigter said. “We encourage people to find a project that they want to work on and we will lend our support.”