Main Quad goes green: Student groups advocate for climate protection

The+Beekeeping+Club+participates+in+Green+Quad+Day+on+Friday.+Many+other+RSOs+and+community+groups+gathered+to+bring+awareness+for+climate+protection+to+students+on+Earth+Day.+

Irene Bogusz

The Beekeeping Club participates in Green Quad Day on Friday. Many other RSOs and community groups gathered to bring awareness for climate protection to students on Earth Day.

By Jacqui Nguyen, Staff Writer

In celebration of Earth Day, RSOs and community groups with a focus on sustainability gathered for “Green Quad Day” on Friday. The Student Sustainability Leadership Council facilitated the event, which resembles the University’s Quad Day.

The organizations ranged from the Beekeeping Club to the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment. Besides celebrating Earth Day, the organizations showed students the many ways they can help keep the environment clean. 

Maddie Burke, senior in LAS and president of the Beekeeping Club, said the club informed students about the importance of bees.

“We want to create a fun outlet for people to not only see how cool bees are, but also educate people on how important pollinators are for the environment,” Burke said.

The Beekeeping Club was founded in 2017 and currently has three hives around campus that members check on. During check-ins, members participate in hands-on beekeeping where they harvest honey, some of which was given out during Green Quad Day.

“There’s an incredible amount of things that bees do for us, and they provide so many necessities for the environment,” Burke said. “So, it’s really cool to be able to house honeybees and educate people about the importance of pollinators.” 

At Green Quad Day, students could sign up to participate in environmental research with iSEE. iSEE has been a hub for sustainability on campus and hosts a variety of different programs, classes and research with the goal of becoming a global model for sustainability.

One initiative iSEE was involved in creating was the Illinois Climate Action Plan, also known as iCAP. The main goal of iCAP is to follow the University’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050.

April Wendling, communications specialist with iSEE, said the institute tries to make information about the environment accessible to all students.

“We host a series of classes for students to put the data we get from the environment into writing that people want to read,” Wendling said. “A lot of people read about the environment, and sometimes it is too depressing or too dense to read. So, we publish our students’ work in our magazine every semester to make reading about climate change more digestible.”

Some organizations also used Green Quad Day as an opportunity to remind the University of what they can do for the environment. 

The Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter at the University is an organization dedicated to advocating for the needs of workers and students. This semester, the YDSA has focused on pushing the University to divest from fossil fuel companies.

Diego Lopez, freshman in LAS and member of the YDSA, said the club wanted to help spread awareness about the importance of divesting from fossil fuels. 

“We’re demanding the University stops investing in fossil fuels and start investing in students,” Lopez said. “Especially with Earth Day happening, it’s a really important time to get the word out.”

The Students for Environmental Concerns was among the groups honoring Earth Day. On Friday, the organization held a climate strike in which protestors marched from Alma Mater to Foellinger Auditorium.

Aside from celebrating the Earth, the organization wanted to remind University officials of previous demands made to address climate change. For the past decade, the organization has been working to hold the University accountable to the Illinois Climate Action Plan. They have also been facilitating the University’s divestment from fossil fuel companies.

Shallon Malfeo, senior in LAS and president of SECS, spoke about the accomplishments the organization has made so far. One such accomplishment was their collaboration with other student organizations to write a comprehensive letter to the University’s administration that demanded divestment from fossil fuel companies.

They were also involved in the creation of Solidarity Gardens C-U, a collaborative project aimed at reducing food insecurity in the community.

Regarding future projects, SECS has been working toward building a green rooftop on campus. They have been continuing to raise awareness about climate change. 

“I’m proud to be here celebrating our hard work, and it gives me hope that this movement is growing,” Malfeo said. “Wherever your passions lie in environmentalism, your efforts do matter, whether that be art, music, poetry, farming, engineering, city planning and design, passion and hope is what drives us to keep going.”

 

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