In the fall of 2022, psychology major Riley Kramlich took a class in environmental ethics taught by professor Kate Parsons. The heavy course subjects compelled her to improve the environmental consciousness of the Webster student body.
“[I heard] there wasn’t an environmental club at Webster. I was shocked by this. Like, how has there not been one? And so I was like, ‘Ok. I guess I’ll start an environmentalist club.’” Kramlich said.
Kramlich, with the help of her peers and professor Parsons, created the Webster Environmentalist Coalition. The coalition is a “non-hierarchical group” that focuses on environmental issues, using more inclusive perspectives to better protect the environment and all people. Kramlich is both president and social media manager for the coalition.
Kramlich was always aware of the issues between humanity’s relationship with the environment, but Parsons’ class was an eye-opener for her as a psychology major.
“I’ve always cared about environmental issues, but in Kate’s class, we really dove deep into a lot of things. We’ve gotten into how these issues made us feel, and I felt compelled to take action. I care about the environment, and I want to make a difference.” Kramlich said.
The club held its first meeting on Tuesday, March 21 at 4 p.m. with two members in attendance. While the club is just now getting off the ground, there’s plenty of enthusiasm among its members. Kramlich is especially enthused about conducting a clothes swap, where students inside and outside the club donate clothes, giving students a chance to thrift for free and learn about sustainable fashion.
“I’m very optimistic. I think we’ll do a lot of good work on campus,” she said.
The difficulty of starting a club, the funding, getting the word out there and serving as both social media manager and president isn’t easy, Kramlich said. But she remains undeterred.
First things first: getting approval from Webster’s Student Government Association, (SGA), which seemed more intimidating than the process turned out to be, she shared.
“It actually wasn’t that bad, it was mostly just stressful for me since the process was a bit scary…We got full approval. We just had to go to an SGA meeting and answer some questions: what events we were doing, our plans, etc,” she said.
However, the coalition didn’t manage to get the proper funding from the SGA because they started so late in the semester.
Fortunately, they encourage all of their activities to be low-cost.
Kramlich believes this leadership position is helping her grow as an individual and fulfill her need to make a difference.
“It pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow. I’ve gotten busier though.” Kramlich said.
Running a club can be a daunting task, Kramlich says, and she’s thankful that she doesn’t have too many stressors in her life to pursue these goals. However, there’s more to starting a club than just free time, she adds; having help and support makes a huge difference in any student’s journey.
“I know there’s a lot of DIY books to get you to start, but I’d say the first step is to make sure you have people to back you. The rest of it is pretty easy,” she said.
Kate Parsons provided that support.
“Riley did most of the work. I gave some feedback on the mission statement, and also attended a meeting for advisors. And I’ve been trying to spread the word and encourage interested students to attend meetings. Otherwise, I step back and let the students take the lead, as the coalition is a place for them to come together and create community and action on campus. I’ll be here for whatever they need, though.” Parsons said.
To learn more about the Webster Environmental coalition, visit their Involved@Webster page at involved.webster.edu.