Grant writes about several students on campus that are member of the Sierra Student Coalition and why they want to help save the environment and what keeps them motivated.
The Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition has been busy this semester. But depending on who you talk to form the organization, you might get different reasons as to why.
For example, Coalition President Olivia Wallace, who’s also a member of Student Senate and New BLAC, is working to find different alternatives to the gas pipeline Ohio University approved. She said all social issues, in a sense, are connected.
“It’s important to realize being in a university environment that these issues are more than just what’s happening on campus,” Wallace said. “More urbanized areas are affected by pollution. To advocate for any social justice issue, you advocate for the environment surrounding people (who) are directly affected.”
In terms of the pipeline, Wallace said she’s worried about the fact that the plan doesn’t match up with the OU’s carbon neutrality goal. She said she wants to delay the process “because I’m afraid of how dependent OU will be on methane gas and how much it affects our goal of carbon neutrality by 2075.”
Abraham Kitchen, president of Eco Reps — a group formed through the Office of Sustainability and is a part of the Coalition — helps the two organizations connect to each other and helps the environmental network of groups on campus grow. Kitchen said that while he’s proud of the environmental work done on campus, he isn’t satisfied and is hopeful for improvement.
“I think that everybody's major should feature some aspect of sustainability and how it could be used in their fields because people walking around on this campus not knowing what the word ‘sustainability’ even means is blasphemous,” Kitchen said. “I would like to see more widespread knowledge of sustainability and I think that it is necessary if this university wants to be as sustainable as it says it is.”
Maggie Rose works with the Environmental Committee on Student Senate and has been especially focused on divestment from fossil fuels. Two weeks ago, she helped set up a panel in the Front Room about why divestment is good for the environment. Rose said she thought the panel was a great success.
Rose ultimately wants to work toward a healthier environment.
“People aren’t the first thing I think about, but rather restoring ecosystems,” Rose said. “I’m really excited that the environmental movement is becoming global and that we are starting to realize how much damage we’ve done and how important protecting wildlife is.”
Like others in the Coalition, Rose sees the importance of having environmental groups stay connected.
“Having solidarity throughout the environmental movement is really important because it is so easy for groups to become cut off or only work toward one goal,” she said. “It’s easy to be ignored as one group, so we all have to be involved and support each other’s causes because they all are for making a better environment.”
These are just a few examples of environmentally minded students on campus. I encourage other students to get involved in helping the environment by attending Coalition meetings. Wallace said she likes to stay involved because working with other students is valuable.
“I really like being in a room with people that want to spend time talking about climate change because it is easy to forget about and I like being with a group of awesome, radical, educated and passionate people that want to know what they can do to help.”
The Coalition meets at 7 p.m., Thursdays in Gordy Hall. Eco Reps meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Baker 239 and is holding a forum about the Sustainability Floor Monday Night at 6 p.m. in Baker 239.
Grant Stover is a sophomore studying English, a member of the Environmental Committee on Student Senate and a member of the Sierra Student Coalition at Ohio University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter at @grant_stover.