Student Environmental Action Coalition
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In the beginning this national organization focused primarily on conserving, protecting and restoring the natural environment, but later its member student environmental organizations took on a broader definition of the environment that includes racism, sexism, militarism, heterosexism, economic justice, and animal rights.
SEAC, "working together to protect our planet and our future," defines the environment as including the physical, economic, political and cultural conditions in which we live. By challenging the power structure that threatens these conditions, SEAC works to create progressive social and environmental change on both the local and global level.
SEAC takes a hard-line stance on the issues it addresses, and is bottoms-up in which the headquarters takes its direction from the individual chapters around the country. 1, 2
History and past accomplishments
In 1988, students placed an ad in Greenpeace magazine about networking with other young environmentalists. Later, their first action was a letter writing campaign to support a Global Warming Protection Act. In early 1989, they set about organizing a national student environmental conference with the aim of launching a new, united, national student environmental movement in the United States. Called Threshold, this historic conference on the weekend of October 27-29, 1989, was an inspiring success, attracting more than 1700 students from 225 universities and schools from 43 states and several countries. The conference effectively brought the organization to life, and its participants voted to make SEAC's first national campaign saving old-growth forest and reforming the U.S. Forest Service. The next time SEACers met in Champaign, IL, a year later they were 7000 strong from every U.S. state, plus others from 11 countries.
Since Threshold in October 1989, some of the SEAC accomplishments include: 1
January 1991- As SEACers protested the war in Iraq and at the same time launched the Energy Independence Campaign. Only 100 attended the rally in Washington, D.C. in support of SEAC. However, the idea of Energy Independence Campaigns has some resistant. Energyindependencenow.org is a California not-for-profit organization striving for cleaner energy resources, but some believe this goal will drive prices up and put people out of work. 1, 3
1992 - The New York chapter brought together 120 schools to protest the Hydro-Québec II dam in Canada. This dam would have flooded an area 1000 kilometers and damaged land of the indigenous Cree tribe. SEAC and the Cree challenged the two billion dollar Rupert River hydroelectric project again in 2005. Originally, the Cree had agreed on payment for this over 50 years summing $70 million at the hand of Grand Chieft Ted Moses. However, Matthew Mukash is the person now challenging it. In August 2005, “federal and provincial environmental review panels said Hydro-Québec's impact study was deeply flawed and sent the provincial utility back to the drawing board.” 1,4
1994 - Pitt & Michigan State removed themselves from the Mt. Graham Telescope project in Arizona which was endangering red squirrel habitat and sacred Apache land. Judge Alfredo Marquez oversaw the case in court stated the "risks of irreparable injury to the endangered red squirrels which live on the site" violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. 1, 5, 6
At a University of Wisconsin, Madison Greens, Madison’s own annual Earth Day was created. Frances Moore Lappe (social change activist and one of Earth Days founders), Dana Lyons (environmentalist), and Road Rage (anti-GMO road show) visited the celebration. Part of the event was also a protest against the Agracetus Campus, a subsidiary Monsanto known for its genetically engineered Roundup© as well as transgenic corn, cotton and soy. Roundup, a pesticide applied to crops, has glyphosates, which had varying results regarding carcinogens. 1, 7, 8
Miami Dade, FL - A Student Organization for Animal Rights from the Miami-Dade Community College successfully pushed a bill through its General assembly regarding the situation of factory-farmed pigs. This was a first nationwide.
Late 2002 – Berea, Kentucky – a joint effort observed a leap forward when the Pentagon released information stating “neutralization and supercritical water oxidation -- not incineration -- is its preferred recommended technology for destruction of chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot.”
November 2002 - After a 2 year campaign, SEAC successfully convinced office supply company Staples to stop offering products that came from endangered forests and start offering recycled paper products.
Shepherdstown, WV - A student won an election on the town council which was “a huge role in fighting gentrification as well as signing the town onto the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement”
“No Coal Days of Action” exposed Citibank and Bank of America’s support of destructive coal companies when SEACers performed a “die-in” and effectively shut down Washington DC Citibank branch. 1,9
March 2007 - Students protested mountaintop coal removal at “Mountain Justice Spring Break”, West Virginia.
October 2007 – “No War No Warming,” a war and global warming protest congregated at Capitol Hill on Independence Avenue.
1. Fight environmental degradation.
2. Recognize the impact of the environment on human individuals and communities.
3. Support human rights.
4. Support animal rights.
5. Demand corporate responsibility.
6. Fight class inequalities.
7. Fight racism.
8. Fight sexism.
9. Fight homophobia and heterosexism.
10. Fight imperialism and militarism.
11. Have a diverse membership.
12. Develop an activist rather than a volunteer approach.
13. Link our issues to local, community concerns.
14. SEAC National exists to empower the grassroots through training and education. We view national campaigns as one of the tools to accomplish these goals.
Currently, SEAC has 1 national campaign, Campus Climate Challenge, and 3 initiatives: Tampaction, Militarism and the Environment, and Mountain Justice.
The Campus Climate Challenge
SEAC is one of 30 organizations from the United States and Canada that is a part of Campus Climate Challenge, their primary campaign. Climatechallenge.org is a partner in fighting global warming.1, 10
Those participating in Tampaction believe that tampons and menstrual pads oppress sexually mature women. The products themselves are thought to be detrimental to the environment. The companies that make the products are suspected of dumping toxins into the ecosystem. Participants of Tampaction want to embrace their body and all that that implies and return to a more natural mindset, like herbal for example.
Militarism and the Environment
SEAC also fights military conflicts since in military conflicts bombs are dropped and/or dangerous chemicals are used, such as in napalm and chemical weapons. SEAC believes no war considered a good war. “No War No Warming” is still an active project due to this concern. SEAC, also, aims for complete nuclear disarming and dismantling.
Mountain Justice Spring Break
Mountain Justice Spring Break is an ongoing project supported by SEAC. Mountaintop mining economically benefits very few (including employment), and has disproportionally far-reaching environmental impacts, including soil erosion and flooding. When the Mountaintop removal blasts ignite, dust particulates of materials in the soil become airborne and are having a negative impact on human health. In addition, when the blast site is too close to residential areas, the structural stability of the residential buildings is adversely affected.
Schools with SEAC chapters
By state and alphabetized:
- San Francisco Bay (CA)
- University of Colorado, Boulder (CO)
- American University (DC)
- Bradley University (IL)
- Illinois State University (IL)
- Southern Illinois University (IL)
- Ball State University (IL)
- Indiana University (IN)
- St. Mary's College of Maryland (MD)
- University of Massachusetts Boston (MA)
- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (MA)
- Central Michigan University (MI)
- Eastern Michigan University (MI)
- Grand Valley State University (MI)
- University of Michigan (MI)
- Wayne State University (MI)
- Hastings College (NE)
- University of New Hampshire, Durham (NH)
- Drew University (NJ)
- Spaulding High School (NH)
- Binghamton University (NY)
- Hofstra University (NY)
- The New School (NY)
- State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Fredonia (NY)
- Stuyvesant High School (NY)
- Syracuse University (NY)
- Federal University of Technology Owerri (Nigeria)
- Central Carolina Community College (NC)
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (NC)
- Wake Forest University (NC)
- Warren Wilson College (NC)
- Hiram College (OH)
- Ohio State University, Columbus (OH)
- Carnegie Mellon University (PA)
- Mercyhurst University (PA)
- Shippensburg University (PA)
- Temple University (PA)
- Providence College (RI)
- University of Regina (SK)
- Claflin University (SC)
- Clemson University (SC)
- College of Charleston (SC)
- Furman University (SC)
- University of South Carolina, Columbia (SC)
- Winthrop University (SC)
- Wofford College (SC)
- Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro (TN)
- Tennessee Technological University, Cookesville (TN)
- Tusculum College (TN)
- The College of William and Mary (VA)
- James Madison University (VA)
- Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (VA)
- University of Virginia's College at Wise (VA)
- Virginia Tech (VA)
- Anstead Middle School (WV)
- Gilbert High School (WV)
- Glenville State College (WV)
- Fairmont State University (WV)
- Marshall University (WV)
- Midland Trail High School (WV)
- Shepherd University (WV)
- South Charleston High School (WV)
- West Virginia State University (WV)
- West Virginia Wesleyan College (WV)
- University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh (WI)
- Education in the United States
- Environment of the United States
- Environmental groups and resources serving K–12 schools