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Global Warming Affects Students – How Can We Have an Effect?

| M.K.R. Alexander, Contributor |Anomalies in the earth’s average temperature and its escalation are a result of human-influenced global warming. The ozone layer keeps earth cozy, helping to regulate the living system to perpetuate; however, adverse effects emerge due to industries and pollutions. This human activity has exceeded the Co2 threshold where now it fundamentally contributes to global warming and “the greenhouse effect.” Though climate change is natural to some extent, it is greatly compounded by human activity and has many types of impacts on people, especially those most marginalised. The adversities we must face together are immense, with the results of climate change ultimately destroying our home: earth. 

This enhanced natural phenomenon is majorly contributed by CO2 while other greenhouse gasses such as CH4, N2O and H2O(g) entail. Incidentally, skyrocketing CO2 concentration level marked the 400ppm threshold worldwide in 2016, emphasized by the intensity of anthropogenic activities. Markedly, since the industrial revolution, humans are burning fossil fuels immoderately; thereupon resulting in carbon emission via factories, automobiles and machines. Besides aforesaid additions, deforestation eliminates photosynthesis, a mechanism of CO2 absorption. Natural calamities are accounted for the rising temperature as well; but according to NASA’s observations, human causes are beyond question as the dominating contributing factor for global warming. 

Different parts of the earth experience climate change differently. Covering 70% of the planet’s surface, the oceans show the prominent changes as it is the main source of consuming earth’s heat (90%) and excessive CO2 (93%). Simultaneously, the land is initially affected by severe heatwaves and droughts. Catastrophes like extreme weather conditions, wildfire, melting glaciers leading to natural habitat devastation are influencing further environmental changes. These signs of climate change could be hard to notice or to relate to at the beginning, as they could appear small, yet it is doom without any room to escape at the end due to its notion of chain reaction and escalation. When the 400ppm threshold is passed, it is no longer a warning about warming – we are burning! We might not be severely affected in the Kootenays now, but those around the world are as will future generations of living beings who may not survive.

Lastly, although stopping global warming is difficult to imagine for various reasons, we as individuals and communities can intervene to decline its acceleration by planting/ reserving trees, using less fossil fuel-based machinery and attaining sustainability, keeping earth live longer and healthier. Therefore, it matters to act now. Realistically, it is late; but not too late. 

As students, as the next generation of the working force, as knowledgeable human beings on our one and only habitat, we are responsible for our actions now. Knowledge is power. We can make a difference by acknowledging the cause-effect phenomena to all the citizens around us. No one wants to suffer. Many people perpetuate their harmful day to day activities due to the lack of knowledge about its contribution to global warming. Bring consciousness to your life by emphasizing the importance of responsible and mindful sustainable habits. In order to live all our busy lives, we need to live and we need a place to live, first of all. That is why it is crucial for us to take active steps to intervene and raise awareness.

a student present at the climate strike in nelson on sept 20th. photo courtesy of Nikita McDaniel.

The Climate Strike that took place on 20th September was such an intervention that took place as a larger global movement. Over 1,500 people attended the Climate Strike in Nelson, many of whom were students.

Sustainability can be only achieved if we change our habits into eco-friendly means within ourselves. They are small things that contribute to an enormous change altogether.

A few small steps the have big impact to consider:

  • Unplug the electronics when not in use
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and when you leave a room
  • Walk or bike to college (+points for health!)
  • Use more public transport or carpooling
  • Use reusable water bottles, grocery bags, cups, plates and cutlery.
  • Use cold water to wash your clothes
  • Reduce using paper – use eBooks, use reusable cloths instead of paper towels
  • Reduce buying new books – Borrow (Library!) or reuse secondhand books
  • Reduce wastage – Donate excess resources/ Reuse and recycle 
a crowd of approximately 1500 was present for Nelson’s Sept 20th climate strike.
photo courtesy of Nikita McDaniel.
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BC Ministry Forum on Sexualized Violence Policies

a student reflection

| Rebekkah Ankenmann, Contributor | From June 4th to 5th the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training hosted a forum with administration and students from all across British Columbia to address the vast issue of sexualized violence within post-secondary. You may now wonder what this has to do with you? Judging that this is an article being published for Selkirk College students primarily I’d like to share the information that one in five post secondary students experience sexualized violence. This is only based on the accounts that are actually reported.

This forum was very useful for advocates and administrators present, but here I present an overview of what I learned from being a student representative at this conference and highlight some aspects that I believe specifically affect our school and students.

This is such an epidemic in post secondary institutions, as it is in larger society, that it was mandated by the provincial government for each school to have a policy in 2016. This became a problem as many institutions were unprepared to properly create an educated, dynamic, and accessible policy. Because of this, many policies include language or procedures that are actually harmful to survivors or any others trying to utilize the policy. Our institution in particular includes a ‘false accusation’ clause that expresses that there will be consequences for false accusations of sexualized violence. This kind of language has been shown by experts and advocates to be an antiquated clause that discourages survivors from coming forward. I have personally gone over the policy at Selkirk College with a colleague based on the ‘report card’ that was created by Students for Consent Culture Canada. Selkirk College did not score well, though this means there is a lot of opportunity for improvement and engagement.

Luckily it is also mandated that there must be a review of every three years, with the next review scheduled at Selkirk for May of 2020. This means that it is the perfect time to actively get involved within our institution and make our voices heard. Things such as plain language that has the ability to make policy comprehensive in regards to who may be reading it, along with trauma informed practice would greatly benefit our policy at Selkirk College. With the mandated policy review pending, it is incredibly important for students to put in their thoughts and expectations for what they believe their policy should reflect within the college. I understand that it is difficult to get involved as Selkirk is primarily a transitional school, with programming that is based on short diploma lengths, however it is important to think about the students who will be attending after we have gone.

Involving consent education was also highlighted to be greatly important within institutions, as it encourages a more open and positive campus culture. The most important aspect of creating a positive campus culture will be directing campaigns towards involving students who wouldn’t generally want to get involved. Students who don’t think that consent talks and workshops related to them are generally the ones who most need to be attending them. There were also presenters from on-campus and community organisations on tactics and theories for addressing sexualized violence. This is important as many of these organisations are the experts on addressing violence in our societies and on campuses.

It will be interesting to see how this issue will be tackled within Selkirk throughout the next year specifically. One of our biggest challenges is finding the capacity to engage students, as the school doesn’t have a lot of draw outside of class hours. Also there is no single person or group of people who are tasked with this work, meaning any work done on sexualized violence prevention and education is done off the side of someone’s desk. I am hoping that there can be a general engagement of students through class talks, and planning events and workshops throughout the year.

The forum also had a moment where students were allowed to talk freely about specific issues or concerns that they had relating to their institutional administration. It was to be a safe conversation where students could talk amongst themselves and validate one another’s concerns without fear of recoil from administration. However this wasn’t how it played out with every institution. Some institutions have more strained relationships with their students, or student groups. There was also a hope for more student engagement by administrations when they are creating programming and policies, as these policies are meant for and affect students.

Most interestingly there was a presentation from the Minister of Advanced Education Skills and Training, Melanie Mark, who announced that the provincial government plans to invest more than $700,000 to address sexualized violence on campuses across BC. Though this funding is needed to support anti-violence work on campus, a highlighted topic of conversation was that one-time funding is not a fix-all, as it does not actually create any static infrastructure that will benefit students for extended periods, nor will the funding go far enough to affect the number of students it needs to. Additionally there needs to be special attention paid to how the money is distributed, as large urban universities have an astronomical difference in resources in comparison to small community colleges. I believe a meaningful commitment would be to create jobs for individuals who are able to support the institutions with the creation of policy, and programming aimed at prevention. These would be specifically important to smaller colleges, as other institutions may already have support in this way from on campus.

My hope is that we keep up the enthusiasm and passion for a comprehensive policy and proper supports for implementation of the policy so that we can show that students care and that they want to be involved in the process.