Students for Environmental Equity provides platform for involvement

Students for Environmental Equity calls participants to worldwide leadership through good stewardship of the Earth. Photo courtesy of Isha Thapar

By Megan Hale | Reporter

Students for Environmental Equity (SEE) was founded to provide undergraduate students with a platform to exercise involvement in public policy addressing important environmental health issues that plague society. Through education, SEE provides students with the tools and knowledge necessary to take action with hands-on advocacy and lobbying.

This new organization is currently registered as a Baylor student interest group with over 50 members, and it is looking to grow. Anyone passionate about environmental health and global health is welcome to join. Members come from all backgrounds, perspectives and areas of study, ranging from environmental science and medicine to law.

“I founded this organization to give students who are interested in these fields, either through what they’ve seen in class or what they’ve seen in research labs, an opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve learned,” Houston junior and president of SEE Isha Thapar said.

As outlined in the organization’s constitution, this group seeks to raise awareness about the intersection between health and the environment, as well as to educate members on the impact of environmental issues on underserved populations.

According to an article released by UCLA’s Center for Innovation, environmental equity strives to protect individuals from environmental hazards while promoting access to environmental benefits, regardless of income, race or socioeconomic status. Air pollution, water pollution, toxic chemical contamination, tropical diseases and climate change are all examples of environmental health issues society faces today.

“A study just came out a couple of days ago about how redlining from the 1930s has led to higher rates of air quality issues, asthma and respiratory illnesses in those populations,” Littleton, Colo., junior and vice president of legislative affairs of SEE Eliana Stromberg said. “So that’s a great example of environmental equity issues where the disadvantaged members of society are more likely to feel the brunt of environmental issues.”

SEE provides students with opportunities to actively address these issues statewide and nationally by working to influence public policy decisions.

“So far, we’ve done the PFAS Action letter-writing campaign, which is to members of the U.S. Congress and senators, and then we’re going to do, in early April, lobbying appointments with congressmen and women for the UN Shot@Life, so it’s good that we have a broad range of congressmen that are represented by our members,” Thapar said.

SEE has also partnered with Baylor University’s Student Government to address these environmental issues locally. SEE is currently working with Baylor’s Student Senate on a bill to address local climate issues by implementing solar panels across campus, Thapar said. SEE members are also planning to work with the Student Senate to improve Baylor’s recycling programs, thereby increasing environmental sustainability at Baylor.

SEE is a gateway for students to play their own role in fulfilling Baylor’s mission statement and call to worldwide leadership and service.

“No matter who you are, this issue does apply to you because whether we like it or not, we all are citizens of the environment and we all will feel the impacts of water pollution and air pollution at some point in our life,” Stromberg said. “I always like to say that the environment doesn’t care who you are or whether you’re Republican or Democrat; if there is a problem, it’s going to affect everyone.”