Environmental lobbying group sets up chapter on campus



(Left to Right) Sophomore Talia Crowley and junior Lily Seward sit during an interview, Feb. 18. Crowley and Seward are co-presidents of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group club.

With the help of SGA, a statewide environmental lobbying group has established a branch on UVM’s campus. 

Vermont Public Interest Research Group, a self-described environmental advocacy group, will set up camp on UVM’s campus as an SGA recognized club, following its approval at SGA’s Feb. 11 meeting.  

The on-campus club will have loose ties with its parent organization, co-president Talia Crowley, a sophomore, said. 

“We are running here at UVM as a student-based club,” Crowley said.

The decisions in the club are being made from their student executive board, co-president Lily Seward, a junior, said. 

“There are people that we’ve worked closely with, and we share the same values, and that is why we’re doing this,” Seward said. 

The club will focus on similar issues to PIRG, but will also be more campus focused, Crowley said.

“The organization’s main focus is getting these key legislation passed in the state,” Crowley said. “This year, we’re going for bold climate action on campus. We want to give students those voices.” 

Since the club is a subset of a larger company, SGA monitors them to make sure that they are not breaking any rules senior, Sydney Pleasic, senator on the Club Affairs Committee, said.

Political clubs and clubs similar to Planned Parenthood have the same rule, Pleasic said. 

The purpose is to get people engaged in local politics, Seward said. 

“We can be a smaller chapter here on campus, supporting Organize, getting UVM to divest from fossil fuels and trying to get to zero waste solutions on campus,” Seward said.

Organize is a UVM club focused on getting the University to divest from fossil fuels, according to its description on the UVM Clubs website. 

The VPIRG club is also focused on amplifying young voices in Vermont. 

“The state is an aging population, and it’s important to have all their voices heard,” Crowley said. “But also getting younger people’s perspectives on issues is really vital.”

The club was an unofficial club before being recognized by SGA and has around 30 members and 10-15 students who have been very involved, Seward said. 

In September, the club helped Sunrise Movement organize the climate strike, Seward said. They also helped with the Vermont Youth Climate Congress in November. 

Sunrise Movement is a youth-led political movement to stop climate change, according to its website.  

During the summer, college students employed by VPIRG travel around the state door-to-door canvassing. 

Crowley and Seward both worked at VPIRG last summer. 

“Last summer, I biked up the Mount Mansfield access road because there are a few houses there, and we want to talk to everybody,” Seward said. “By the time I got to the top, I was knocking on people’s doors sweating and panting.” 

During their canvassing, the employees drive out to a location in Vermont, park the car and bike house to house. 

The reason for creating the club was not to recruit new summer employees, but to allow people to get involved who might not want to do [canvass] for a whole summer, Crowley said.

“A lot of the things that we’re working on here on campus is not as big of a commitment time-wise,” Seward said. “The physical and emotional work that canvassing is, is not for everybody.”