Written by Andy Cerecero and Annyston Pennington.
On October 15th, the Campus and Community Focus committee of the Legislative Student Organization known as the Liberal Arts Council held its “We Speak For The Trees” event. The event, cleverly named from Dr. Seuss book The Lorax, was held in the Glickman room of the Liberal Arts building. The main objective of this event was to inform students of the importance of environmental legislation, as well as the importance of our environment.
The Liberal Arts Council is known to round up extremely distinguished speakers for their events, and this time was no exception. The panel of speakers consisted of Dr. Jerome Bump, Dr. Kelly Crews, and Dr. Monty Humble. Also joining in on the event were various environmentally focused student organizations such as Longhorn Lights Out, UT Microfarm, and the BEEVO Beekeeping Society. The student organizations tabled along one side of the room so that students could learn more, sign up for emails, and get involved in environmental issues on the campus level.
Students could learn more…and get involved in environmental issues on the campus level.
A wholesome trivia game initiated the event, and attendants had the opportunity to answer questions and win prizes graciously donated by Amazon. Students guessed answers for environmental questions such as: which is the largest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Superior), and how many gallons of water flow through Niagara Falls (about 75,000).
After the trivia, Dr. Bump was the first speaker, beginning his presentation on the importance of fighting for environmental safety and preservation. He lectured on UT’s history of environmental upheaval as well as the “Battle of Waller Creek,” a student protest aimed at saving the trees near the Waller Creek area. With the recent protests of the concealed campus carry law, Dr. Bump felt it appropriate to emphasize the how peaceful protest can make an impact. His moderately serious section of the event ended on a light note as he introduced the “Bat Rap,” a song by late comedian Robin Williams depicting the cruelty of animal testing.
Crews pressed the importance of…developing policies that not only help the environment but also continue to support the economy—a difficult balance to achieve.
Following Dr. Bump was Dr. Crews. Her presentation was on the importance of fighting for the environment’s rights, and how to think critically about that process. Crews pressed the importance of compromise when developing policies that not only help the environment but also continue to support the economy—a difficult balance to achieve. She emphasized the need for “win-win” decisions, wherein all parties can benefit from well-thought out plans for protecting the environment.
Closing the event, Dr. Monty Humble spoke in his experience with sustainable energy, particularly regarding electricity. He spoke on the nuances of developing sustainable energy and that while environmentally friendly, some sources such as wind and solar are not always practical. With the difficulty of finding sustainable energy sources comes the issue of environmental impact v. cost, and often low cost sources win out. He, like Crews, emphasized the need for informed decision-making and development of practical solutions.
In the spirit of Liberal Arts Week—themed this year around voting and involvement in politics—CCF’s event provided a space for discussion on how students can get involved with environmental legislation on and off campus. The guest professors supplied insight into the real-world mechanisms of developing policy and the necessity of action. Students not only left with fun prizes and free pizza but also knowledge on how to fight for their environment.