Each year, a number of new clubs emerge on campus, only to quickly fizzle out, because of a lack of interested members. This is the fate most student environmental groups suffer.
“The last few years, few [environmental] groups made it past the first semester,” said Josh Meyer, a member of Temple’s latest student environmental group, which started this September.
Students for Environmental Action, or S.E.A., intends to change this pattern. “Our membership has grown,” said student Jim Hardy, one of facilitators of the group, which he helped found. “We have a really committed core group.”
With a listserv of about 200 members, weekly meetings at Curtis Hall and an informative Web site, S.E.A. is well on its way to becoming a presence on campus.
Responsible for organizing a number of student-run campaigns, Meyer of S.E.A. is in charge of the tree tending and green energy campaign. Meyer hopes to see the Main Campus of Temple University become a green campus like Ambler and use wind energy.
“Buying a wind farm,” Meyer said, “would save the university money. If they raised tuition just $2.20 per semester, we could support a wind farm.”
Other universities, such as University of Pennsylvania, have already bought wind farms. Having scheduled meetings with the administration, S.E.A plans to discuss obtaining green energy for Temple’s campus.
The group’s tree tending campaign plans to work with elementary and middle school children to plant trees in inner city communities.
“Trees reduce stress, they help cut down on mental fatigue,” Meyer said. “They also help kids to pay more attention in school.” Most of their tree planting efforts will have “direct community involvement.”
Jeff Ham, secretary of S.E.A., is involved in promoting recycling on Temple’s campuses.
“Temple has a pretty solid recycling program,” Ham said. “They recycle pretty much everything, from fluorescent bulbs to ink cartridges.” Temple has recycled since 1989, and an estimated 16 million pounds of material have been recycled since then.
The group’s efforts are directed toward student awareness of recycling. “We’re trying to get recycling bins strategically placed around the campus,” Ham said, “so people know where they are.”
One of the group’s concerns is the fact that some buildings do not contain easily accessible recycling bins. “Every building should have recycling,” Ham said.
In addition, the group hopes to see the university purchase more recycled goods, mainly paper. The group’s Web site stated, “We need to buy recycled materials for recycling to do any good.”
The group, however, has had “a hard time getting a clear response from the administration,” Hardy said.
Another campaign currently on the group’s agenda involves awareness of the military and its effect on the environment. Alison Huxta is involved with this campaign, whose main goal is to inform students about the effect of war on civilians and the environment. Awareness about the effects on the environment due to the war in Iraq is a frequent topic of discussion.
Recently, group members worked to form a city-wide network of student environmental groups. The result is S.E.A.C., the Student for Environmental Action Coalition.
“I’ve been involved for a while,” Hardy said. “The coalition has really gotten off the ground. We’ve been meeting weekly with students from UPenn and Drexel.”
Hardy is optimistic about the future of S.E.A. “We know what we want to accomplish,” he said. “We have a vision and we’re committed. We want to have Temple stand out as a school that is environmentally friendly.”
Kishwer Vikaas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.