New SEED presidents Mark Silberg, Chelsea Corbin turn toward the future

Weinberg junior Mark Silberg presents possible Spring Quarter themes at a group meeting. SEED focuses on service and environmental advocacy.

Alexa Santos/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg junior Mark Silberg presents possible Spring Quarter themes at a group meeting. SEED focuses on service and environmental advocacy.

Maddie Elkins, Reporter

The newly elected leaders of Students for Ecological and Environmental Development unveiled their new goals for the group Tuesday evening.

“The question that we asked ourselves was, ‘As an environmental organization at an university as prestigious as Northwestern, what is most important for us to convey to students?'” co-president Mark Silberg said during the SEED executive board’s second general meeting of its term. “What we really want to do is to grab people where their hearts are and for a lot of students, that’s not always the environment. It’s issues of public health, social justice, gender or whatever else.”

Silberg, a Weinberg junior, said the group’s mission is to incorporate all these issues and show how they affect the environment.

The group was founded in 1968 under the name Northwestern Students for a Better Environment. To mark SEED’s 45th anniversary, Silberg and co-president Chelsea Corbin are working to turn it toward the 21st century by building an intersection among human health, social justice and the environment.  They want to involve more students with similar interests from other campus organizations.

“We want to be more responsive to the campus and its interests,” said Corbin, a Medill junior and former Daily staffer. “It’s clear that Northwestern students are really committed to social issues, and all of those rely on the environment in some way because every single person that lives on the planet relies on the environment. We want to take the interests that people already have and expand the scope of those interests. Obviously, we think the environment is important, so we want to show people why.”

Silberg and Corbin plan to orient the group around quarterly themes that highlight its focus on programming and partnerships within and outside of the NU community.

Next fall, for example, the group will focus on environmental justice. Silberg said he hopes to illuminate the fact that minorities and people of lower socioeconomic class are more vulnerable to environmental health consequences. SEED hopes to partner with groups such as the Northwestern Community Development Corps, Alianza and For Members Only to promote dialogue about race, class, the environment and how these issues are all related.

“Something SEED has struggled with over the past few years is effective programming between our big events,” Corbin said. “The way that we’re structuring the group around themes and collaboration avoids excess programming from SEED while still adding more to the conversation about the environment at Northwestern.”

The group’s previous co-president, Amanda Myers, supports the direction in which the new executive board plans to take the group. Myers said SEED has always focused on education and the quarterly themes will make the group more continuous while operating within its traditional framework.

“In terms of my graduating class, there were only three people, two of whom were presidents, so we were pretty small,” said Myers. “The current junior class (in SEED) is much larger, so I think that helps. Overall this year, the interest in SEED was much greater than past years going into the transition, and we hope that this is a reflection of the positive impact our programming has had.”

In all, the group’s new co-presidents are excited for the future.

The group’s new mission, Corbin said, “hits on a lot of the major interests of Northwestern students: global health, human rights and using resources that are at our disposal to help other people.”