The University of Maryland SGA’s Student Sustainability Committee is launching a series of events throughout the month of April to celebrate Earth Month and bring attention to environmental issues.
Starting April 1, the Student Government Association will host various events to promote sustainability, including weekly Netflix Teleparties — which will take place every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. — where they will screen movies about the environment. The movies vary from documentaries to children’s movies, including David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet, Bee Movie, Cowspiracy and The Lorax.
In past years, the SGA hosted a large in-person event on Earth Day with sustainability groups. The beekeeping club, for example, would hand out their honey products and advocacy groups would have students sign petitions, said Sharon Halevi, the deputy director of the Student Sustainability Committee.
But last year, the Earth Day event was canceled due to the pandemic. This year, although they still couldn’t hold a large event due to COVID-19 restrictions, Halevi said coordinators decided to spread events throughout the month because of the virtual environment.
Originally, the committee planned to hold a week’s worth of events, but it ultimately expanded it to raise more awareness.
“We decided that we wanted to kind of go big this year for Earth Day,” said Sasha Sytnikova, representative of recruitment and retention.
Another new event the SGA has planned is “Plant Parenthood,” a raffle where students can win a plant kit to learn how to care for a plant. Students will submit plant names and those with the best plant names will receive a plant kit, along with other randomly picked winners.
The SGA will also work with SCoop, the university’s Sustainability Cooperative, to hold teaching events every Friday until Earth Day to bring attention to specific environmental topics, including the ocean, environmental advocacy and ecological technology.
Outside of Earth Month, SGA members are working with various student organizations as well as the university to promote sustainability, said Sytnikova and Marilyn Yang, sustainability committee member and SCoop liaison.
Yang said the SGA hosted a virtual seminar with Dr. Sacoby Wilson last semester on “the disproportionate rates of COVID-19 in Black and brown communities and how that relates to how these areas have more air pollution from the way factories are set up.”
They’re also working on some environmental initiatives this semester, including trying to get bars in College Park — such as R.J Bentley’s and Cornerstone Grill and Loft — to recycle.
“Bars aren’t really the most environmentally friendly of places,” Sytnikova said. “Mostly because it’s money and extra work and no one ever wants to do extra work or pay extra money.”
Hopefully right now, the Earth Month events will continue raising awareness for the important environmental issues SGA members advocate for throughout the year, while keeping students interested, Sytnikova said.
“We’re still trying to do our best to kind of try to keep the student body as engaged as possible, when possible, with each other because you know obviously it’s hard to like create relationships and bonds,” Sytnikova said.