Monday, May 5, 2014

Last Meeting of the Year

WHEN: Wednesday, May 7
TIME: 6:30 - 7:30pm
WHERE: University YMCA (1001 S. Wright Street)

The end of the year is upon us! Wednesday will be our last general meeting of the school year and we will be going out in STYLE with our annual SECS tie-dye party! Shirts will be on sale for $8 each so if you don't already have an SECS shirt or if you'd like to tie-dye another one, please bring CASH ONLY and get pumped to customize your SECS shirt with your favorite tie-dye colors! We will also be having a FREE ice cream sundae bar so celebrate the end of the year and enjoy one last SECS meeting this year before finals start. All supplies will be provided so just bring your $8 if you're buying a shirt!

Thanks for a successful year and good luck to our future board next year! See positions below.

Beyond Coal Chair: Erika Weir
Earth Week Chairs: Allison Steffens, Julia Nikolaeva
Education Chair: Mitchell Killough
Sustainable Food and Landscapes Chair: Jane Kanter
Weatherization Chair: Kevin Dinh
SECRETARY: Jola Szkodon
TREASURER: Anthony Salzetta
SOCIAL: Emily Dombrowski

Monday, April 28, 2014

Officer Elections Candidate Responses

The end of the year is fast approaching, which means it's time for elections to choose next year's executive board! These candidates are the future of SECS, so let's see what they have to say. Each candidate was asked to answer the following questions as part of their application:

1. Why are you a good candidate for your this position? Reference your involvement with SECS, environmental sustainability, or other YMCA groups. (answer this for EACH position you'd like to run for, up to 3)

2. What are some of the goals you hope to achieve if voted into this position?

3. Why are you passionate about environmentalism, activism, or your specific leadership choices?

Drew O'Bryan - President
1. I love SECS! I first got involved during my Sophomore year with the group and quickly became active with the Beyond Coal campaign. My second semester I became SECS' secretary and took on some additional responsibilities within the group (maybe you remember my emails). This year I've served alongside my boy Cheesy Pete as Beyond Coal co-prez. The prospect of becoming SECS president next year really excites me. I think that the trainings I've received from the Sierra Club on a variety of organizing topics and tactics, my campus network including my position on an advisory committee within the iSEE, and my general passion for environmental and social justice make me a great candidate for the position!

2. My biggest goal next year as SECS prez will be to create a stronger sense of community within both SECS itself and the broader campus environmental community. I'd like to try to find ways for each of our working groups to collaborate and identify shared goals or events to work on together. Most importantly though, I want to make sure everyone is having fun and is given the tools to succeed as environmental activists and advocates!

3. This is a tough question! I'm passionate about environmentalism and environmental activism because I'm not sure I'd be able to live with myself if I wasn't. Right now there is a lot going wrong in this world. A lot of people, plants, animals, and places are being exploited through a "business as usual" disregard for basic environmental and human rights. I see our generation as the ones who will finally begin to take action in reimagining what it means to live in a sustainable culture and redevelop our government and economy to reflect those values. I'm excited to help be a leader in our fight towards a just and sustainable future!

Erika Weir - Beyond Coal Chair
1. As Beyond Coal president, I would bring a fresh new perspective, snacks, and a female voice to our campaign. Over the course of this year, I have been a core member of the Beyond Coal team and understand the responsibility and dedication necessary to fill this position. From what I have learned through being involved in SECS and my leadership training last summer with the Sierra Student Coalition, I know what it takes to build and maintain a strong campaign.

2. I would of course love to make divestment happen for Beyond Coal. However, as that probably won’t occur just yet, I would like to strengthen our alumni support, gain a wide faculty base, and work more closely with other social justice groups on and off campus. I also have many specific ideas for campaign strategies from speaking with other divestment campaigns. As well, I would like to get as many people involved as possible to make next year the best year of Beyond Coal yet!

3. I have always been motivated by the idea that our generation finally has to take action on this problem that has been ignored for so long. As I become more and more involved, I am constantly re-inspired by what motivates other people to work in environmentalism and activism. I really enjoy working on divestment and the Beyond Coal campaign because it is a way to work within a larger, international, environmental movement.

Allison Steffens - Earth Week Chair
1. I’m a good candidate for the Earth Week chair because I believe I have great planning skills that would deliver an awesome Earth Week to the U of I campus. Even though I served on the Sustainable Foods and Landscapes committee this school year (another great committee), I have been really interested and highly supportive of the Earth Week events this committee has put on and would like to be more involved with the planning process for 2015’s UIUC’s Earth Week. As an active member of BikeFace, I have recently been extensively involved in assisting in the first CU Bike Polo Tournament, which has given me skills and connections that would make me an excellent candidate for Earth Week Chair. Also as a recent addition to the Green Observer, I think my involvement with our fellow YMCA groups could lead to great collaboration and cooperation in planning next year’s Earth Week.

2. If voted into this position, I would hope to plan an awesome Earth Week that promotes environmental awareness on campus and throughout the community. I would aim for all of the committee’s events to get the community and attendees involved, and that they would have a great time and learn more about the environment, the ultimate goal of Earth Week.

3. Initially I entered college this year as a Biology major, however after my involvement in SECS I realized that the environment was something I am much more interested in. After attending Powershift and speaking to fellow SECS members, my eyes were opened to all the environmental issues that need to be addressed and I switched into the school of Earth, Society, and Environment. By serving on the Earth Week chair, I think I can help this committee reach out to the community and also get the enlightenment I received.

Julia Nikolaeva - Earth Week Chair
1. I consider myself a good candidate for the Earth Week chair position because of my involvement in the Earth Week committee this past year. My participation in this committee has allowed me to familiarize myself with the processes that go behind making Earth Week a success. Because of this, I feel as though I am well equipped to make next year’s Earth Week yet another successful week of events.

2. Almost everything I know of environmentalism has come from the opportunities and experiences that SECS has provided for me. Other than that, there have been nearly no other aspects of my life that exposed the significance of these issues, and I feel that this is a common fact for many other people. Although I know I have much more to educate myself on, along the way I would still like to find more people who find themselves in the same position. If elected as Earth Week chair, I would make it a goal to have the events in Earth Week extend to people beyond SECS who would also benefit from gaining more knowledge on the environmental issues that are very much applicable to the lives of everyone.

3. I am most passionate about becoming Earth Week chair because of its emphasis on campus wide and community involvement. Having been born and raised in Champaign-Urbana, it especially means a lot to me that I can potentially have this opportunity to encourage this type of involvement in my very own hometown. I appreciate Earth Week’s dedication to teaming up with other RSOs on campus as well as organizations within the community. Therefore, I would like to have an even more prominent role in making that happen.

Mitchell Killough - Education Chair
1. Last fall I transferred to the University of Illinois as a junior, and right away I began to search for ways to get involved on campus. Fortunately, I came to SECS at a time that allowed me to create a nexus between my passion for environmentalism and working with children. Becoming an SECS officer this past semester has given me insight into what it takes to be successful in a leadership position, and I hope to continue the things that have only gotten started in this year’s education group.

2. Since the group is just starting out, I would like to first expand the membership of the education group. This would include reaching out to other YMCA groups and environmental groups on campus in hopes for collaborative projects. At the same time, I would like to reach out to more elementary/middle schools in the Champaign-Urbana area to work with. This will allow for better allocation of lesson planning, communication with the school staff, etc.

3. The need for environmental awareness and sustainability is more ever increasing. The environmental issues we face today will not go away until changes are made. Therefore, I believe it is important to reach out to the younger generation and inform them not only of the problems happening now, but of the potential problems they will one day encounter. They are tomorrow’s leaders, and it is our responsibility to teach them how to be good environmental stewards.

Jane Kanter - Sustainable Landscapes and Food Chair
1. I was in an environmental group in high school, though it being an underfunded school with an environmentally apathetic student body, we never did much more than have bake sales and empty the recycling bins before school. But our faculty sponsor was energetic and concerned about the planet, and I was friends with all of the other people in the club, and this led me to seek out similarly-minded RSOs on Quad Day. The SECS table, to say the least, stood out the most. I have been involved in SECS since the first week of classes, and I love it immensely. I care about the issues that we are trying to address, not just in SLAF, but also in the other committees. I enjoy the events we put on for our own group and for the YMCA, and I volunteer my time at them whenever I can. I also have some great ideas for events/programs/fun stuff.

2. I would of course like to increase membership and participation in the committee and the club as a whole. After that, well, I hope to put on a variety of events, including potlucks, movie nights, and field trips to various sustainable farms in the area. I would like to perhaps collaborate with groups such as Red Bison on restoration workdays, and maybe organize some volunteering with the Urbana Park District. I also think it would be worthwhile to talk to the Y Eatery about collaborating on a kitchen garden.

3. I am very organized and (if I do say so myself) a talented writer. I like working with people, and know a lot of people and groups on campus, I care about the environment, and plan on having a career involving sustainable agriculture. I am also quite fond of tie-dye shirts and vegan food (since joining, I have come to the conclusion through careful observation that this is some sort of officer requirement).

Jola Szkodon - Secretary
1. I love Mama Earth! I am involved in The Green Observer, an environmental publication on campus, SECS, and the Student Sustainability Committee. I am also a great candidate because I am disgustingly organized and have the ears of an owl (I’m a great listener)!

2. My main goal of secretary and social media chair would be to keep every member of SECS informed of upcoming events and opportunities. This includes SECS events, other environmental events on campus, environmental internships, etc.

3. A few years ago, I read a book that really changed my view on the world. The book, Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, evaluates the idea of human supremacy, which is the belief that humans are the most important creatures on Earth. I realized while reading this book how strongly I disagree with the problems human supremacy creates, specifically the exploitation of natural resources (so many habitats are destroyed and species go extinct!). The ideas Ishmael introduced encouraged me to start thinking about how our environment is impacted by the way we live. Moreover, I spend a lot of my time thinking about how we can change our lifestyles to be environmentally friendly.
My most recent interest within environmental issues has been the use of toxic chemicals in body, skin, and other material goods. I enjoyed teaching a workshop for Earth Week 2014 on this specific topic!

Anthony Salzetta - Treasurer
1. I got involved with SECS and Beyond Coal at the beginning of last fall. As a freshman, the two have really shaped my experience in college thus far and how I view the direction of the rest of my college career. I plan to be even more involved next year, and I would be incredibly excited to do so as the Treasurer. While the job involves taking care of a lot of small things, I think it is a great way to help shape our club!

2. As treasurer, I would certainly do my best to ensure that SECS doesn't go bankrupt. The majority of large spending happens with review and consent of the board, and I, on an individual level, would need to handle lower levels of discretionary spending. I plan to exercise exemplary discretion and make sure everything goes smoothly on the funding side of events. Additionally, speaking to David about the great joy of filling out SORF applications just had me jumping at the opportunity to do so next year.

3. To me, environmentalism isn't solely an issue of ecosystem stability. I am equally concerned about the impact environmental degradation has on health and equality of people around the world - primarily in marginalized communities. I plan to be heavily involved in SECS until I graduate, with the purpose of helping to create a community and university more responsive to change in favor of social justice. I view the treasury as my first step of officer involvement in the club.

Jamie Zouras - Fundraising Chair
1. I have been involved in SECS for three years. Currently, I hold the position Fundraising Chair, and the year before I was Earth Week Chair. Through the years, I have worked with dedicated committee members to help educate our campus about environmental harms and to promote sustainability, and I have organized events that help raise money in support of SECS. As I continually become more involved with SECS, I learn more about the most efficient ways to engage other students on campus and teach them about our club. As Fundraising Chair, I have especially had a lot of fun planning bike blender / bike tune-up days in collaboration with Bike Face, as well as starting a new tradition: Holiday Dump and Run! I now have a much better idea of when the appropriate times to contact people are, so I can utilize my time in a more efficient manner. Furthermore, I have collected many valuable contacts and learned about the most productive means of advertising.

2. After organizing Earth Week and taking on the responsibilities as Fundraising Chair, I realize that putting on large events for the UIUC community is very effective, but sometimes very costly. At times when we are not able to attain funding from outside sources or SORF, we must rely on our SECS funds. As a second year Fundraising Chair, I will organize a variety of events in which students will gain the opportunity to help out our organization. Such fundraisers may include: smoothie making by a bike blender, running our usual bike-tune-up event, Holiday Dump and Run, rock-climbing at the ARC, holding a rummage sale on the quad where students could get rid of unwanted items and buy others’ recycled items, and a Chipotle / Insomnia Cookies fundraiser.

3. I have come to realize that the greatest component of environmental activism is educating others. SECS really emphasized this through each of the five project groups, which is why I have been a committed member for three years. By raising money to support these efforts, I feel that I am directly contributing to making our campus healthier and more aware. This is not only very satisfying for me personally, but it is also the foundation of how I plan on spending the rest of my life.

Emily Dombrowski - Social Chair
1. I am a good candidate for being this year’s social chair because I am super outgoing and know how to have a good time. I am an environmental science major so I know many people in the club. I also have helped plan many events for my sorority.

2. I want to have more social events. I feel like the different project groups get to know each other well but not outside of that. I want to do big group activities where everyone can get to know each other. This can help with networking so the groups can work together on more projects.

3. I am passionate about environmentalism because it is something I truly care about. I feel that I am the kind of person that can get along with anyone and I am super open for ideas that people want for social events.


This year's elections will take place during the SECS General Meeting on Wednesday, April 30 at the University YMCA! Join us for a recap on this past year from our current officer board and to meet your new leaders for next year!