Use your voice to advocate for your future, your well-being and your safety By Wes Enterline

As we celebrate another Earth Day at UW-Whitewater, the UW-Whitewater Office of Sustainability is excited to return to our normal calendar of events for Earth Month 2022! Please visit our website to see the remaining events we have planned for April.

Students often ask me what we need to do to protect the environment and preserve a prosperous future. Students often feel powerless as individuals to make a difference and experience climate anxiety in the face of dire news from our changing world. It’s true, our small personal choices seem to require sacrifices and the global challenges are much bigger. However, it often reminds me of the power contained in collective action and student voice is a powerful motivator for faculty and staff charged with meeting student needs.

On April 7, 2022, a group of passionate students from across the UW system called on the Board of Regents to take immediate action to decarbonize our campuses. I encourage everyone to watch the video of this powerful performance. They joined my sustainability colleagues from the UW system to present potential solutions to move us in the right direction. The Board of Regents have asked students to “check in” with them from time to time to ensure progress is being made and they are being held accountable.

The way this responsibility occurs is that students have to organize and keep this topic in conversation here on campus. Climate change is the most pressing sustainability issue of our time and individual action is not enough. We need leadership to move up a gear.

Students concerned about this issue should consider how to use their voice to advocate for your future well-being and safety. Join the UW Divestment Coalition (UWDC) and remind campus leaders and WSG Shared Governance representatives that this is about you and that leaders at all levels should explore all viable solutions first. This is especially important next year as UW-Whitewater reinvents its strategic direction for the next five years with a new Chancellor at the helm.

Of course, individual actions are an important aspect of sustainability as they shape behavior to reduce our collective impact which has mutual benefits for the environment, economy and social justice. Something as simple as turning off the electronics and reducing our socket load is a simple, everyday thing that people can do with minimal extra effort. This reduces our carbon footprint, saves resources such as fossil fuels and money, and fosters a culture of efficiency over waste that can permeate other areas for additional benefits.

While attending UW-Whitewater, you should also consider ways to get involved outside of the classroom. The Sustainability Scholarship offered by the Undergraduate Research Program will continue to provide an opportunity for students interested in pursuing sustainability research questions in the 2022-23 academic year. The purpose of this program is to…

April marks the start of various volunteer opportunities with the Office of Sustainability. If you are interested in gardening, ecosystem restoration, or citizen science monitoring and/or would like to volunteer your time and labor to maintain our ongoing programs in the Campus Garden, Upham Greenhouse, and Nature Preserve, please visit the “Students” tab on the UW-W Sustainability Website to find links to our upcoming schedules. Attend SAGE, Gardening Club or PEACE student organization meetings to connect with like-minded students and begin these collective actions. Attend our events to engage with entertaining and informative content and network with others. Stay connected with our email newsletter [email protected].

The biggest step to making a difference is to show up. Looking forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events and happy Earth Day!

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