Friday, October 15, 2010

UIC Green Youth Revolution

The mission of Green Youth Revolution states it is "a grassroots student organization that revolves around expanding environmental awareness, responsibility and stewardship at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the community." Organization President, Jose Valencia explains,
"...and that would be the best way to describe the group, but my vision of the group is one that focuses on environmental issues but also serves to broaden student's perspectives on the subject matter outside UIC, Chicago, Illinois to environmental issues nationwide and even on a global level, what they can do individually to affect change as well as a group. However, the main thing I would like for the group to accomplish is to nurture and establish student leaders at UIC that will someday become community leaders that are equipped with the skills and tools to effectively make change for the better. True student leadership is something that UIC severely lacks and it is unfortunate because we as students could do so much more if only students got involved and knowledgeable on the problems."

With that being said, anyone can join at anytime. There are no membership requirements to be a part of GYR; just show up at meetings/events, speak your mind, and become active. To create awareness on campus, it turns out the best way is through meetings. Meetings give the opportunity to bring up the issues, debate them, and hopefully come up with a plan. Social media, like massmails and Facebook, are also used to reach out to those not attending meetings.

Green Youth Revolution supports projects and initiatives that students want to do; GYR knows to get people involved, they need others to create. If students want to rally, volunteer, or promote people that are working toward green initiatives, GYR provides a place for the dedicated students to focus on an issue and make a plan for others to follow. Jose sums it up as, "In short, the group can show the students the door, but only they can walk through it."

As a grass roots, student organization it is no surprise that their strongest point is their youth. With a majority of sophomores/freshman interest, they still have most of their university career to initiate a cause and have the opportunity to see it through the end. Even though youth bring energy and optimism, unfortunately, they also bring inexperience. In relation to the leadership issue, students are unaware of UIC's bureaucracy. The students are likely to see the issues, but they can be completely unaware of who to contact to report the issue and discuss ways to work with it.

When asked how GYR is contributing to the UIC's Climate Action Plan, Valencia related it to other UIC plans and pointed out how rare it is to find students that are familiar with the Climate Action Plan, many students are not even aware of it's existence. In reference to GYR, Jose continues to encourage group members to read the plan, but as with many other student groups, you can never be certain people will follow through.

As President, Valencia seems to be familiar with the plan; he says, "However I do know that I've looked at the document extensively and have made decisions to work on those particular recommendations as group projects. An example being recycling, we're planning to do our second annual residence hall recycling contest in which we will place additional recycling bins in the dorms and document the weight of the recyclables.

All in all, we can fully believe when Jose Valencia says, It really is a Green Youth Revolution." It is a great aspect of UIC because it gives student freedom to approach the group. It is not forceful in anyway, however can create more force than we realize.

As the UIC climate action plan, along with the City of Chicago's, starts to take action will student's be more knowledgeable and passionate about contributing to change and bringing their creativity along with full force?

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