Student Mathew Hursey stating his personal connection to the cause of environmental justice (photo by Corey Cockerill)
To face big problems, one must start small and take one step at a time. Wilmington College is doing just that in addressing environmental concerns and letting voices be heard. On the afternoon of April 19, students Sarah Holtzclaw and Emma Marks hosted an Earth Day Roundtable which focused on environmental advocacy. Students and community members of varying backgrounds were represented and able to share their thoughts on the topic with staff members from Senator Brown’s, Senator Portman’s and Congressman Stivers’ office.
“Advocacy events like round tables are so important because it’s the job of the elected officials to represent the people of their district,” shared Sarah Holtzclaw, the FCNL student representative at Wilmington College. “There have to be opportunities like this for constituent voices to be heard and to talk about policy solutions.”
“There have to be opportunities like this for constituent voices to be heard and to talk about policy solutions” – Sarah Holtzclaw
The discussion focused heavily on three “asks” from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a nonpartisan organization that lobbies Congress and the administration and teaches constituents how to do the same. “Asks” are requests made by FCNL for constituents to inform their members of Congress on an issue as well as ask them to join or cosponsor initiatives.
The three asks for the roundtable were:
1) Congressman Stivers should join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
2) Congressman Stivers should cosponsor HR 5031 which provides monetary incentives for creative solutions to environmental problems.
3) Senators Brown and Portman should cosponsor S2448 which supports alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons, a refrigerant which has harmful long term effects on the environment.
Guiding questions included: What brings you (audience member) here to the roundtable discussion? Should environmental issues be bipartisan and why? What are your questions and concerns about the proposals that FCNL is making to the Senate and the House of Representatives?
Those attending the round table stayed engaged in the discussion for the full hour, and the staff members from the congressional offices responded to all questions and comments made by the audience.