Group takes message to D.C.

FAMU’s Green Coalition will send students to “Power Shift,” an environmental summit in Washington, D.C. to make sure the new administration keeps “green” promises for the next four years.

Along with Florida State University, Florida A&M University students will travel to the summit Feb. 27 to March 2. with an expected 10,000 people around the country.  An interest meeting for students will be held this Thursday at the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.

FAMU Green Coalition Advisor LaRae Donnellan said Power Shift is significant because environment issues negatively affect African-Americans.

“Blacks and other minority groups are disproportionately affected by pollution and other effects of global warming,” Donnellan said.  “It’s important for students at (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) especially, to take a stand and hold our legislators accountable for decisions they make about energy policy and climate change.”

Students will have the opportunity to learn more about environmental issues and lobby legislatures. A career fair for “green” jobs will be available for students as well.

Kiara Wright, 21, vice president of the coalition, said participation in the summit is for those who want to hold politicians accountable for environmental issues.

“Power Shift is for all people who want to learn about their environment as a whole, not just being green,” said Wright, a junior magazine production student from Alexandria, Va.

“Power Shift is a great way for us to obtain information about our environment and how to positively pass it on to the average FAMU student.”

C.J. Gassam, 19, president of the coalition, said FAMU’s participation in the event will help bring a “new face” to events such as Power Shift.

“The fact that FAMU is attending Power Shift will help enhance the black presence at these type of events,” said Gassam, a freshman architecture student from Chesapeake, Va.

Others agree.

“It’s a good way to ensure Barack keeps his promise about being eco-friendly,” said Daniel Saint-Felix, 19, a sophomore nursing student from Miami.

Saint-Felix said information acquired from the conference can benefit students and the university as a whole.

“The knowledge gained at Power Shift could help institutions like FAMU cut down on tuition prices by lowering energy costs,” Saint-Felix said.

While some students view the trip as a positive way to get through to legislators and peers, some students remain skeptical.

Patrick Benoit, 22, a sophomore economics student from West Palm Beach, said environmental issues should be second of importance; the economy should be first.

“The environment is one of my last concerns at this point in my life,” Benoit said. “I’m worried about keeping food on my table and a roof over my head.”
Coalition leaders said they would like to recruit 20 or more FAMU students to attend the summit.

Scholarship money is available from the National Wildlife Federation to help offset the cost of the trip for coalition members. The organization is open to all current FAMU students. 

For more information, contact LaRae Donnellan at (850) 561-2765.