Students for Environmental Concerns prepares for 6th annual Action Night

By Erin Renzas

Just days after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan accused state environmental regulators of ignoring numerous pollution violations by coal-burning power plants, the University’s Students for Environmental Concerns will once again bring environmental issues to the forefront with its 6th annual Environmental Action Night.

The event is to be held Thursday at the University YMCA at 6 p.m.

According to Paul Heiberger, co-president of Red Bison, environmental issues are ignored far too often.

“This event is a good time to talk to all the different environmental groups and to learn about the issues,” Heiberger said. “The setting is informal and students can ask questions and find out details without being forced to make a commitment.”

Heiberger said Red Bison is dedicated to restoring and recreating a natural prairie environment throughout the Champaign-Urbana area and is a participating member in the Environmental Action Night. Illinois, long known as the “Prairie State,” has lost more than 90 percent of its prairie to farming and development.

“The environment is a marker of everyone’s shared history,” Heiberger said. “It is a key to the past and at the same time ensures that there will be a future for everyone and everything.”

The University has a great advantage in addressing these issues because it hosts a great number of environmentally-concerned groups, interested in both specific and general topics, said Susan Rodgers, president of Campus Greens.

“What we need now are students and members of the community who are willing to take advantage of these organizations,” Rodgers said.

According to Joseph Teng, junior in ACES and president of Students for Environmental Concerns, the purpose of the event is to introduce new and current students to environmental organizations and issues. At the same time, the event hosted by Students for Environmental Concerns also works to encourage networking between the various campus, community and national environmental groups.

“The event differs from Quad Day in that it allows people to focus only on environmental groups in a more personal setting,” Teng said.

Event coordinators expect approximately 200 students and community members to attend.

Participating groups include the Alaska Coalition, Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Environmental Council, Engineers without Borders, Wildlife Society, Prairie Rivers Network, Campus Vegetarian Society, Environmental Resources, Alternative Spring Break and many other community and University organizations.

“People come and see what is being done on campus and in the community, and they decide to get involved,” said Becca Guyette, YMCA program director. “That’s how the ball keeps rolling; more and more people become informed and then do their part to protect the environment.”