This year, students can be a part of the seven environmental organizations on campus: UTMSU Ministry of the Environment, the Environmental Affairs Office’s Green Team, Campus Roots, the Urban Agriculture Society, the UTM Cycling Club, Bikeshare, the Student Association for Geography and Environment Students, and the Green Party Club.
Each group caters to different interests, but they are all united in their effort to reduce the negative environmental impact of UTM students, and to make the campus more sustainable. Through the newly formed UTM Environmental Alliance, all of these groups will meet often to collaborate, share resources, and work together.
“You have to start branching out and doing extracurricular activities in university. If you don’t, you aren’t competitive and you don’t learn outside the classroom,” said Aubrey Iwaniw, the Environmental Project Coordinator at UTM, which offers work-study positions for the Green Team. Often, students email Iwaniw asking to get involved or volunteer, but she says that students should also take initiative as leaders, and that they will get support if they do.
Students are often unaware of the opportunities to make a difference on campus.
Lucia Hlasna, a third-year specialist in Environmental Management, learned about campus groups by talking to her friends. “A lot of my friends ended up being involved, and that’s how I found out about different programs and got involved as well,” she said. “The best way for me to get started was getting involved in stewardship [events] around campus, planting trees—really getting out there and getting my hands dirty.”
The benefits of getting involved with these organizations include “meeting like-minded individuals, making great friends, and having an outlet for your environmental frustrations”, said Iwaniw. There are academic incentives as well. The Student Association for Geography and Environment Students offers a Professional Advancement for Geography and Environment Students (PAGES) program this year, which allows students to get certified based on their involvement in various events and workshops.
Getting started is easy with the festivities of Environment Week, which will be running all week (October 4 to 8). “I am super excited to showcase the awesome work our ministry and campus groups have been doing. This just shows that anyone can get involved and pitch in to make our campus more sustainable,” said Grayce Yuen, vice-president of University Affairs and Academics at UTMSU.
Highlights of Environment Week include a farmer’s market outside the Student Centre on Monday, a Green Opportunities Fair on Tuesday, a green art workshop on Wednesday, bike tours beginning at noon on Wednesday and Thursday, and environmental videos in the Student Centre’s Presentation Room all day Friday.
To see a full schedule of events, students are asked to visit.utmsu.ca.