Chapter Spotlight: University of South Dakota

The Coyotes of the University of South Dakota (USD) recently added a new chapter to their set of clubs: the UNA University of South Dakota (UNA-USD) Chapter. Chapter President Breana Spinler has worked hard to educate, inspire, and mobilize fellow students to support the values and lifesaving work of the UN. As one of their first events, UNA-USD hosted an event in which they invited students from across campus to present their sustainability initiatives and tied them to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Due to high levels of participation, this event will likely become a marquee event for the chapter.

Additionally, one of UNA-USD’s goals for this year is to organize their events to focus on one SDG per month. They previously hosted an event focused on SDG 6: Clean Water, in which they emphasized the importance of ensuring everyone has access to clean water. UNA-USD also hosted a beach clean-up. To promote SDG 2: Zero Hunger, the chapter hosted a speaker from Americorps who discussed the issue of food insecurity. Additionally, to highlight SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, the chapter discussed recovering from the pandemic and vaccine equity. UNA-USD has also planned events around SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, to take place this semester.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Breana mentions many organizations weren’t able to accept college organization volunteers. This impacted their plans for involvement to complement their SDG events, like touring a power plant and volunteering at a food pantry. UNA-USD members have met in person, with physical distancing and mask requirements in place, to have a modest sense of normality with their members. Because some of their group events had been canceled, they focused on sending adequate information about volunteer opportunities to promote their members to take individual action to help advance the Global Goals.

Some upcoming events include discussions about reducing the inequalities within the prison reentry system and the celebration of Earth Day in April. For their first year, UNA-USD has encountered numerous challenges, but members have worked hard to ensure their work and advocacy don’t stop. Like so many other chapters, UNA-USD is an example of resilience, and I am excited to witness the growth of this emerging group of leaders.