Throughout history, artists have played a critical role in advancing important social movements. Artists often draw inspiration from their environments, both social and natural, and they also have the skills to communicate and inspire others toward action. By stepping up to serve as ASI’s Commissioner for Environmental Justice, fourth year art student Sylvan Streightiff embodies this tradition.
Before being sworn in as the new ASI Commissioner for Environmental Justice at the start of the fall 2019 semester, Streightiff expressed her passion for environmental and social justice through her art and community service. Her pursuit of a BFA degree in Drawing and Painting and minors in Art History and Psychology allows her to explore the ways society interacts with the environment and the different factors that affect our social, political and environmental climate.
Streightiff urges people to reflect on the intersectional impacts that environmental degradation has on our population: “It’s easy to think about the day to day but we have to look at the bigger picture.”
Streightiff applied to the ASI leadership position to become more involved on campus and to play a more active role in bringing the vision for a more sustainable campus to life. During her term as EJ Commissioner, she hopes to use her role to facilitate more collaboration and communication between student organizations and the greater campus community. By bridging this gap, she is hopeful that students will become more aware of the resources and opportunities available to them to make a positive impact on the environment and in their communities.
Ambitious goals such as these do not come without challenges but Streightiff has chosen to see these challenges as opportunities. The lack of specific guidelines in the environmental justice commissioner job description, for example, might leave some students feeling a bit lost or aimless. However, this has only motivated Streightiffr to create a framework that will help guide future environmental justice commissioners in their important work. She also plans to work closely with administrative staff, faculty, and student government to incorporate more sustainable practices on campus. Her position guarantees her a spot on President Conoley’s recently launched Commission on Sustainability, where she will play a role in advancing campus sustainability programs and policies. She has also volunteered to serve on one of the Commission’s committees to help update the university’s Climate Action Plan.
As if that isn’t enough, Streightiff also aims to advocate for stronger integration of sustainability concepts in the curriculum, more opportunities for students to engage with campus sustainability efforts, and a stronger culture of activism on campus.
Outside of campus, she further demonstrates her strong commitment and passion for environmental justice and community service. Volunteering with community organizations such as Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) reinforces her strong commitment to connecting with and supporting her local community. With JDRF, she recently completed a 100 mile bike ride through Death Valley to raise funds for diabetes research!
After graduation, Streightiff plans to attend graduate school to further develop her artistic skills. She intends to continue using her painting to communicate about the issues she is passionate about.
Streightiff recommends students get involved with ASI to find opportunities to interact and work together with student leaders and other campus community members.
Here are more ways YOU can get involved:
- Visit the USU Information Desk located in the USU’s second floor main walkway to learn about ways to get involved with ASI.
- Volunteer with your local community. Not sure where to start? Check our the City of Long Beach’s list of volunteer opportunities.
- Make positive lifestyle changes to decrease your carbon footprint such as using public transportation, reducing meat consumption, using natural light when possible and more.