Hello everybody and welcome to Students for Environmental Concerns- otherwise known as SECS. We are UIUC’s oldest and largest environmental student organization, and we are looking forward to an exciting school year of environmental activism.
Right now we’re about to begin our third week of work for the semester, but it’s definitely not too late to join even if you’ve missed our previous meetings! The way that SECS is works is through five sub-committees, which are: Beyond Coal, Bikeface, Education, Political Action, and Sustainable Business. Each have their own goals and objectives, but we are all deeply committed to caring for the Earth and doing our part to create a sustainable future. Here is a short summary of each group’s current goals!
UIUC Beyond Coal is a subsidiary of the Sierra Club’s national Beyond Coal campaign. The long term goal of our chapter has been to convince the university to divest their endowment funds from coal and other fossil fuel energies. Thankfully, the Academic Senate voted yes to divestment just this past semester, but that doesn’t mean Beyond Coal’s work is over! Divestment has yet to take place, so the group is still working hard to ensure that it does and to raise general awareness of the many dangers that coal poses to our future. This semester, they are also beginning to campaign for another Sierra Club movement: Seize the Grid, which aims to transform the energy sources of college campuses to renewables.
Bikeface aims to elevate the status of bicyclists in the Champaign-Urbana community by raising awareness of bikes as a mode of transportation and working to help make our streets as safe as possible for biking. Bikeface regularly participates in Critical Mass rides (where swarms of bicyclists swarm the streets to draw motorists’ attention) as well as social bike rides every week. The group also works in bike maintenance and with the university to manage the bike fee that each student pays in their tuition. Upcoming on September 22, Bikeface will volunteer for the annual Light the Night bike light giveaway from the CU-MTD. Volunteer with Bikeface or stop by the Alma Mater or Hallene Gateway from 4-7pm to get a free bike light- which are legally required for nighttime biking in Champaign-Urbana!
Our education sub-committee works both to reach out to the surrounding community in Champaign-Urbana to educate about environmental issues and alternative sustainable lifestyles and to educate themselves through different volunteer opportunities. This upcoming semester, Education will be working with a fourth grade class at Yankee Ridge Elementary School in Urbana as well as at the Urbana Park District’s Anita Purves Nature Center. In the next few weeks, the group will be having a workshop with a local teacher in order to learn the best ways to teach environmental education to young kids. If you enjoy teaching and volunteering, Education is the group for you!
Our political action group works to engage students in political lobbying in support of environmentally friendly political policies and to draw both local and state politicians’ attention to environmental issues. Currently, Political Action is working to organize a visit to campus from state representatives and senators to have a conversation with students about the environment. The goal is to show these politicians that we prioritize the environment and expect them to take action to protect it. Political Action is also currently in contact with the Tammy Duckworth campaign- Duckworth is currently running for the junior Senate seat for the state of Illinois. Also upcoming, on September 28th former Champaign Mayor Don Gerard will be coming to speak to Political Action about the decision making process in politics, lobbying, and other issues surrounding sustainability in politics. Don’t miss this talk if you’re interested in local politics!
The goal of Sustainable Business is just what you might guess it is- to work to improve sustainable business practices in the Champaign-Urbana area. Their main project this semester is continuing the Skip the Bag movement to end as much use of plastic bags at local retailers as possible. The committee is currently in the process of planning outreach events in order to raise community awareness of the many problems associated with the use of plastic bags and to convince them to reduce their bag consumption. Because reducing bag usage is so closely tied with proper consumer education on the issue, Sustainable Business will likely be partnering with Education to spread their message as far as possible.
Our next meeting will be Wednesday this week, September 14th at 6:30 pm, beginning in the Murphy Lounge at the YMCA. Also happening that day at 6:30 is a film screening at the Channing Murray Foundation of This Changes Everything, which SECS is co-sponsoring. Some members of our Beyond Coal group will be speaking prior to the screening. We hope to see you at either the meeting or the screening!