Chapter Spotlight: Mississippi State University
Through careful planning and execution, the UNA-Mississippi State University Chapter led a successful panel event centered around the 2019 theme of climate crisis: Climate Café. Not only did this UN Day celebration educate students on the role of the UN, but it also addressed how climate change affected marginalized communities within and outside the U.S. The simple strategies and forward-thinking by these chapter leaders is an excellent example on how to spread awareness and understanding over major UN-related issues on campus. Chapter President Ella Schalski shared her team’s process and thinking behind this speaking panel event.
How did your chapter celebrate UN Day?
We held a UN Day: Climate Crisis event called ‘Climate Café.’ There was a panel of speakers, some goodies, and [our] great speakers. Our speakers were two professors from Mississippi State from the Anthropology and Sociology department. We also had RJ Johnson, one of UNA-USA’s National Council members!
How did the logistical planning of the event go?
The planning went very smoothly because we gave ourselves about a month and a half to two months to make sure everything was fine. This helped more professors-not just those serving on the panel- to give extra credit to their students for attending this event.
How did you choose the venue? Did you provide any additional incentive to get students there?
Our venue was the auditorium of the university in the student union. Having [our event] there increased the number of walk-ins. We also served bagels, water, and coffee, as we wanted to keep with the ‘café’ theme of light refreshments. We also passed out some of the UN Day Swag that we received. We additionally partnered up with another climate action student group on campus. Their president and secretary spoke about the [Climate Reality Project] and how to get involved.
What did your panel speakers contribute to the discussion?
[They] really focused on the sociology of climate change. One professor’s research centered around the impact of climate change on African American communities in Mississippi, so that was interesting as it affected our own community! The other professor focused on Costa Rican communities impacted by climate change. So they brought a really academic perspective to the discussion. RJ talked about how the UN is trying to fight the climate crisis. Given their different backgrounds, I think everyone in the audience really expanded their knowledge on the crisis and what they can do to help.
That’s great! It really sounds like you all committed to the climate crisis theme and successfully drove traffic there. Is there any advice you’d like to give to other chapters on planning events like this?
I would definitely say to start early-that was the best thing for us. Also, reaching out to the community and faculty- even if they’re not doing a panel. Having other professors spread the word about our event and become interested in helping for future events was extremely helpful.
In terms of [getting] people to attend, the extra credit option and walk-in location really helped!
What future events is your chapter thinking of organizing this upcoming semester?
We’ve got a lot of ideas, but our focus has been having Congressman Guest come and speak. We think that this would greatly benefit not only the student population but increase awareness of our cause. So that’s been in the workshop for us, but we’re also planning on doing our campus ‘International Fiesta.’ For that event, we partner with other organizations on campus and celebrate our school’s various cultures and identities through food, music, and more.
Once again, a huge thank you to Ella and UNA-Mississippi State University Chapter for planning this event and sharing their experience. To contact them, email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out through Instagram @unamsu1