W&J students talk sustainability summit planning, environmental activism

Created: May 6, 2021

Last Updated: May 6, 2021

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WASHINGTON, PA (May 6, 2021)—Chances are, you saw a flood of social media posts around the third week of April promoting Earth Day and the idea of “going green.”

Selena Easley ’21, Kali Bunecicky ’21, and Kayla Stanczak ’24 want to make sure that message doesn’t just stick to one day a year.

The trio of Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students were the driving force behind the College’s first-ever Sustainability Summit—a day full of programming aimed to educate W&J students on the principles of environmentalism with a focus on intersectional environmental justice and sustainable living.

“I think bringing awareness to this issue doesn’t have to be only on Earth Day or only in April. I want to bring more attention to this issue year-round,” Selena said.

Kali agreed, adding, “This wasn’t meant to be a one-time thing. This was meant to be something that future W&J students carry on and continue to push for sustainable living on W&J’s campus.”

The women brought together multiple W&J clubs and organizations as well as speakers from outside the College, including urban revitalization strategist Majora Carter, who has created and implemented several technology and green infrastructure projects and studied the environmental impact of economic disparities in American cities.

“When people think of environmental justice, they just think of conservation or ‘save the rainforest.’ But it’s so much more than that. It’s housing security, energy security, women’s rights, black rights— it’s all-encompassing,” Selena said. “Majora talked about the synergies between the housing crisis and the environmental crisis—it’s really an umbrella for so many things.”

Creating the program was no easy task. Serving as a campus organizer with the environmental NGO Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), Selena planted the seed for the idea on W&J’s campus with assistance from the organization. Soon, Kali—with whom Selena worked to design an interfaith space on campus—and Kayla were on board as members of W&J’s Community Engagement Team. Together, they honed their event planning skills and put together the ambitious full-day event. With Kali and Selena both studying remotely this semester, Kayla’s input as an on-campus learner was crucial to help planning from a campus perspective.

“It’s no secret that W&J students have been busy this semester, and as a freshman even in a non-COVID time, spring semester is a lot to adjust to. It’s really commendable that she was willing to take this on and help us out,” Kali said of Kayla.

The event sets up a legacy for seniors Selena and Kali to pass down to future W&J generations, and they are grateful to have someone like Kayla to take over the reins. The women have a vision of more frequent sustainability events and programming to help increase involvement across the W&J community.

Following their graduation this month, Selena plans to attend the Penn State School of International Affairs, studying toward a master’s degree in International Affairs with a focus in energy policy; Kali has accepted a position with UPMC for the coming year while she applies to medical school.

About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY

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