STORY BY ALLISON TREBACZ
Colleges and universities across the United States are beginning to take drastic steps to combat climate change. Some schools are becoming more bike friendly.
Some schools, like Drake University, are adding compost bins or eliminating plastic water bottles. Still other campuses, like Yale, are going as far as divesting their stocks in favor of alternative energy methods and “green” companies. Either way, climate change will play a large part in the upcoming election season.
With a new location in Iowa, NextGen Climate is an up-and-coming, national non-profit dedicated to taking on Climate Change through political action. It’s running a traditional campaign, but it’s testing a different focus in Iowa. It’s reaching out to Drake students.
“(We’re) increasing our activity on the field,” said Dave Miranda, press secretary for NextGen. “And young people are very enthusiastic.”
NextGen has sent representatives to eight college campuses across Iowa this semester, including Drake. They provide services for voter registration and early voting.
Miranda emphasized that college students have more influence than they realize. They have the power to vote and the resources to be informed.
Small changes around campus are being made to achieve sustainability as part of Drake University’s five-year Climate Action plan, which was approved by President Maxwell in 2013.
The school is inching closer toward change and students have already seen the installment of new water fountains to reduce plastic waste.
In addition, the Drake University Sustainability Committee has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent every 10 years or less.
Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) is pushing for even more change at the student level.
“This year, we’re working with the League of Conservation,” said sophomore Jade Suganuma. “We’re trying to organize trash clean ups and helping out in the sprout garden to do our part for the local community.”
Sustainability is the university’s goal and it’s up to the students to hold it to its promise. Details of the action plan are available on Drake’s website.
DEAL encourages students to read the plan and aim for sustainability in their daily lives. This means cutting waste in simple ways. Examples include bringing a reusable bag to the C-Store, using your own silverware instead of using the plastic variety at Quad Creek Café and passing on the paper bag.
The same is true on the community level, the city and even the state. For students that are passionate about environmental issues and political action, NextGen has made themselves available to help students interested in doing more on a scale that extends beyond Drake’s radius.
For students that are passionate about the lasting impact of climate change and its relevance to this upcoming election season, Drake University students have an advantage with their proximity to the state capitol and accessibility to political events.
Miranda and NextGen, encouraged students who see climate change as a top priority, to find a way to vote and have their voice heard.
“Political action,” Miranda said. “holds larger entities responsible.”