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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA changes makeup without changing mission

Published: October 26, 2012
Section: Features

In existence since 2007, Students for Environmental Action (SEA) as an organization is constantly changing. Recently, SEA is trying out a new structure where they vote on initiatives raised by members of the club. With 13 initiatives last semester and eight this semester, some are quick tasks but others are ideas that will take time to work toward. Initiatives range from Earth week in April to their semi-annual local food banquet.

“SEA has accomplished feats such as eliminating sale of water bottles in all but three venues on campus, collaborating on the Climate Action Plan with President Reinharz, helping create the Brandeis Sustainability Fund, holding a semi-annual banquet for 150 students to come together, assisted in increased recycling solutions around campus, and helping the campus convert to cage-free eggs,” Maura Boughter-Dornfeld ’14 said.

While many of these changes were not advocated publicly, SEA still maintains a loud presence on campus. The reusable take-out containers that a lot of students now use or are encouraged to use when eating in Usdan are one of their accomplishments. In addition, the SEA water bottles numerous students carry around remind the campus of SEA’s role in assisting Brandeis’ environmental movement.

In terms of goals for SEA as an organization, Boughter-Dornfeld said that “some SEA goals are fluid and stick with the group year to year.” She elaborated that the structure of the club has changed to try to encourage a more involved group where everyone has a role and a hierarchical structure does not exist.

“The initiatives are a way in which everyone involved (typically smaller groups of people five to seven) can have their own role, and the representatives for each initiate help continue momentum but do not independently do all of the work,” she said.

Recently, SEA has chalked the campus with creative and thought provoking quotes to increase awareness. The club has also been cleaning up and learning about Sachar Woods, starting a Food Coop here on campus, and working to divest subsidies away from fossil fuel utilization. Some of their campus-geared activities are campus-wide cleanups, advertisement of and conjunction with eco-friendly brand names, as well as their semi-annual Free Organic Banquet, scheduled for Nov. 13. In addition, SEA has established a relationship with Waltham Fields Community Farm, so members may begin volunteering there in the spring.

SEA’s mission extends outside the Brandeis campus to many different organizations in Waltham, Boston and often other neighboring cities. SEA has weatherized houses, volunteered at local farms, cleaned woods and trails and done cleanups around Waltham in addition to working with SEA has linked with groups from other colleges in Boston to further the green initiative.

Over the next two years, SEA’s main goal is “to inform the student body about climate change, and find ways to act together to combat it.” Actions SEA is going to take to do this are help organizations and institutions around them take sustainability to the next level and utilize the constantly evolving technology to implement systems that will take care of the environment. SEA is hoping to create more dialogue, establish community with other nearby schools, plan actions that everyone has a part in, and join with department clubs. SEA hopes to match with off-campus organizations as well in addition to other groups to “create intersectionality and cross-discipline discussion and action.”

“SEA is a group of individuals who are all committed to joining together to discuss and work toward action, just as any other club is,” Boughter-Dornfeld said. “We have different degrees of our personal pieces of how we interpret environmentalism and welcome all ideas.”