Article written by Savanna Burcham and Sarah Holtzclaw
As Earth Day approaches Wilmington College can stand proud in witness of all the environmental justice movements happening on campus. Founded in 1870 by the Religious Society of Friends, the College adopted the following core values: integrity, community, diversity, excellence, peace and social justice, respect for all persons, and service and civic engagement. It is an exciting time on campus to see these values lived out through new clubs, service activities, political advocacy, and the creation of a new major.
This February, with the help of faculty Kendra Cipollini, passionate students Courtney Hall, Margaret Hover, and Millena Spicer petitioned SGA to form Eco Club. The new group hopes to build relationships and serve the community. They have plans to attend environmental service projects like removing honey suckle and picking up litter. They also hope to take fun trips in nature like camping at Hocking Hills. Founding member Spicer says, “One of our main efforts is educating people about environmental concerns. There is an immeasurable amount of things that need changed in order to help our environment, and the first step is knowing. We hope that the more people on campus that are educated, the more impact we will be able to have overall.” Keep a look out for Eco Club’s future campaigns for increased recycling and eliminating the use of straws on campus!
“There is an immeasurable amount of things that need changed in order to help our environment, and the first step is knowing. We hope that the more people on campus that are educated, the more impact we will be able to have overall.” – Millena Spicer, founder of Eco Club
Many students are familiar with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) from attending their annual Spring Lobby Weekend in Washington D.C. where hundreds of young adults come together for 3 days to learn about a social justice issue, be trained how to lobby by the experts, and then meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill to lobby for change. Three years ago FCNL in an effort to expand their young adult outreach created the Advocacy Corps, “The Advocacy Corps is a 9 month-long program where young adults between the ages of 19-30 get paid to organize their local community around federal legislation. Advocacy Corps organizers connect local activists and leaders with their local member of Congress to affect big, long-term change.” WC Senior, Sarah Holtsclaw is a member of the 2017-18 Advocacy Corps who is working with Congress for meaning bipartisan climate action. Holtsclaw explains “This program is really exciting work because bipartisan efforts are the most pragmatic way to make change in Congress. Myself and 19 other young adults from around the country are working tirelessly to get our Congressmen to join the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, along with supporting specific environmental legislation. As well as asking the Senate to protect climate funding in the budget.” Call your Congress members at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to take action on climate issues today! Holtsclaw along with fellow WC students have lobbied Congressman Steve Stivers’ office in Wilmington, OH. He has yet to join the caucus or respond to handwritten letters that were sent to D.C. so Holtsclaw is continuing her Advocacy efforts with an event in collaboration with sophomore, Emma Marks.
“This program is really exciting work because bipartisan efforts are the most pragmatic way to make change in Congress.” – Sarah Holtzclaw on the Advocacy Corp
On Thursday April 19, the College will be celebrating Earth Day/Ag Day with speakers, tree plantings, and more! The same day Marks and Holtsclaw will be hosting a Round Table Discussion with Elected Officials from 12:30-2pm in the McCoy Room. Representatives from Congressman Steve Stivers’, Senator Rob Portman’s, and Senator Sherrod Brown’s offices will all be in attendance. Community members and college students will also be present to share their personal testimonies on environmental issues and to discuss policy solutions with their representatives. Holtsclaw says “We hope that the event is educational and helps connect constituents directly to their officials’ offices. Advocacy works and these concerned voices deserve to be heard loud and clear!”
WC is also looking to the future in regards to environmental stewardship with the creation of a new major. Humanities department faculty member, Stephen Pottoff started a committee of faculty, staff, and students to discuss and create a new major in sustainability and social justice. Pottoff explains the impact he believes the major will have on campus, “I think that this new major has the potential to draw in a wide variety of young people who are committed to living in a sustainable relationship with other human beings and the natural world, and want to obtain a broad practical foundation for pursuing this vital work in their own communities and work lives. I am hoping we will see a revitalization of the College’s community gardens (Grow Food, Grow Hope), as well as of the College eco–housing.” The Committee hopes to see this major come to fruition in next few years.