Past Campaigns

Tampaction Campaign

The Tampaction Campaign is a national, youth led effort to replace unhealthy, unsustainable tampons and pads with sustainable alternatives and positive attitudes towards menstruation, menstruators’ bodies, and the environment. Commercial tampons contain trace amounts of dioxin, a toxic chemical that studies have linked to cancer, endometriosis, and other ailments.  All major tampon brands also contain rayon, a super-absorbent and abrasive material that causes ulceration and peeling of the mucous membrane, thus absorbing more than it is supposed to. The bacterial infection Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) has also been directly linked to the use of commercial tampons, and the FDA estimates about half of the cases of TSS are caused by tampon use.  The average menstruator consumes between 10, 000 and 16, 000 pads and tampons in her lifetime, not including all the packaging and plastic applicators that accompany these products. Tampons are largely produced from non-organic cotton (a high insecticide crop) and the commercial chlorine bleaching processes (which are unnecessary to begin with) utilize sodium chlorate (an herbicide) and sodium chlorite (which releases toxic gas). The production and disposal of tampons and pads are also an environmental justice issue, as the factories, incinerators, landfills, etc. used in the process are disproportionately located in minority and low income communities. Tampon awareness is not the sole goal in this campaign.  The point of the Tampaction campaign is to change the problematic ideas about menstruation that are currently held by popular culture and to help menstruators and their allies learn to question systematic issues like sexism, in addition to supporting environmental justice and positive, sustainable alternative products.

SEAC began the fight for sustainable menstrual products in the summer of 2000, first with the initiation of a national campaign to get Dioxins out of Tampons (DOT), and then in 2001 with the launching of the Tampaction Campaign.

For more information: http://www.campusactivism.org/server-new/uploads/primary%20revised%2012-06.pdf Marci Baranski:contact person?  She posted this link to a blog about tampaction http://tampaction.wordpress.com/

Free Burma Campaign

The Free Burma Campaign is one of the largest human rights campaigns in the world. The coalition was formed via the Internet as a way to share strategies to weaken the military rule in Burma. Members discussed ways to help develop refugee communities, educate the global audience about the political and economic situation in Burma, and support Burma’s democracy movement through economic activism and human rights activism. The Internet provided the necessary outlet, as the Burmese military junta controlled the media, to link fellow dissidents as well as concerned citizens around the world in the international grassroots effort to free Burma.

Burma is a Southeast Asian agrarian nation that regained its independence from Britain in 1947 and adopted a Western-style parliamentary democracy.  However, in 1962, the country’s civilian government was overthrown in a military coup. From 1962-1988, these military leaders, who formed the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), managed to isolate the country from the rest of the world to the point that the once rich nation was given the status of  “Least Developed Country” by the U.N. in 1987. Pro-democracy revolts erupted in 1988 as the political and economic situations plummeted, but these were met with violent suppression; and tens of thousands were massacred and many more fled to border camps seeking refuge. Key leaders of the democracy movement were either jailed or put under house arrest. In 1989, the military government assumed the name “State Law and Order Restoration Council” (SLORC) and also changed the name of the country from Burma to Myanmar. The following year the SLORC held multiparty elections, however, when the party lost by a landslide to the National League for Democracy (NLD), the elections were nullified and power remained in the hands of the SLORC.

Due to the 26-year long self-imposed isolation, the terrors occurring in Burma went predominantly unnoticed by the rest of the world, and it wasn’t until the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi, the co-founder of the NLD, that Burma’s struggle for freedom began to attract global attention. In 1994, a grant from the New York-based Open Society Institute was received by the Burmese student revolutionaries in Thailand in order to establish BurmaNet- an online Burma news list serve. The list serve  facilitated conversations among the students scattered around the world and distributed information obtained by Burmese rebels through an underground network inside Burma. They interviewed victims of human rights abuse, collected information on the environmental destruction, and recorded the movement of the military troops. They mailed this data on diskettes to be broadcaste to the world via BurmaNet.

The Free Burma Coalition (FBC) was formed in September of 1995 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison as one of the single largest Internet-based political communities. The organization had two primary objectives: 1) to end foreign investment in Burma under the current military dictatorship through economic activism, and 2) to build a genuinely grassroots international Free Burma movement in support of Burma’s freedom struggle. The FBC kicked off the Free Burma campaign at the international conference of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) held at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  There, information packets, posters, and videotapes of a 12-minute documentary on Burmese human rights were distributed  free to any organizer at the conference who signed up to participate in the “International Day of Action for a Free Burma” set to take place October 27, 1995.  Burmese student leaders and activists were also brought in as speakers and to participate on panels at the conference. At the end of the SEAC conference, a Pepsi-protest demonstration was organized to occur in front of a local Taco Bell Restaurant near UNC, Chapel Hill- thus began the Free Burma campaign.

Many students arrived back on the campuses empowered by the Chapel Hill demonstration and began organizing local Free Burma protests as the Free Burma Action Day drew nearer. Conversations continued via the Internet, and the e-mail list for the Free Burma Coalition grew to include people from Asia, South Africa, Australia, and Europe, all signing up for the day of action. Excitement and enthusiasm flowed through virtual space, and this energy helped ignite the fires for ongoing political actions, such as divestment and boycott campaigns. Since its creation in 1995, the FBC has been very successful as it has helped withdraw one dozen multinational corporations (the most notable being PepsiCo Inc.) from Burma, persuaded 21 U.S. municipalities and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to enact “Burma Free” business ordinances and laws, and contributed to the passage of a conditional economic bill which was passed in the U.S. in October 1996.

While the struggle for Burma to become a free nation continues, SEAC took a step back from the campaign in order to focus on the agenda of the Energy Action Coalition (EAC), who, until recently, provided the majority of our funding.

For more information:

http://www.freeburmacoalition.org/Docs/Resistance%20and%20Cybercommunities%20PDF.pdf

http://www.ibiblio.org/prism/May96/pepsi.html

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Boycotts/Hx_PepsiBurmaBoy.html

Kyoto NOW! / Youth Power Shift Campaign

Kyoto NOW! is a grassroots global climate change campaign promoting national action through the power of the university. Students participating in the campaign have asked their schools to commit to the Kyoto Protocol standards for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as a way to achieve both local reductions and to send a message to our national government saying that we are ready for action NOW on global climate issues.

The Kyoto NOW! campaign was started at Cornell University in 2001. The students staged rallies, sit-ins, and collected thousands of signatures in support of a resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the standards of the Kyoto Protocol.  After their huge success, the Cornell students brought the campaign to the SEAC National Meeting in Berea, KY, where SEAC’s National Council adopted Kyoto NOW! as one of its national campaigns.  At the same time, students at universities nation-wide were achieving great success in adopting clean energy policies on campuses. These include the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, and Carnegie Mellon University making the largest purchases of wind energy in the U.S in 2001, and the students at the University of Colorado at Boulder increasing their own student fees to pay for clean energy.

In 2003, youth organizers from the Kyoto NOW! campaign teamed up with Greenpeace and the Climate Campaign during SEAC’s National Meeting in Detroit, MI, to discuss a National Day of Action to occur in the fall to unite the clean energy movement. The organizers voiced their concerns about the many differences in the local campaigns, as well as the fact that, with so much emphasis being placed on anti-war efforts, a day of action for clean energy may be overshadowed, so the group decided to keep the goals modest. The National Day of Action for Clean Energy Campuses, held November 13th, was an exploding success that blew away the organizers’ expectations. The initial goal was to have 25 campus actions, and this was far exceeded with 65 groups ultimately participating!  It was around this time that the Kyoto NOW! campaign changed its name to Youth Power Shift as a means of moving beyond the limitations of the Kyoto Protocol and focusing on schools and universities to take bold steps toward clean energy use nation-wide. In 2004, the November day of action was followed by a more coordinated event set on April 1st (April Fools Day) with the theme of moving beyond the foolishness of using fossil fuels- Fossil Fools Day. This Day of Action saw even greater success with 130 actions occurring nation-wide, double the 65 that took part in the November Day of Action.

With the Presidential Elections coming up, the coalition formed by the many organizations fighting for clean energy, including SEAC’s Youth Power Shift, organized Energy Independence Day on October 19th and focused on a Declaration of Independence from Dirty Energy pledge. 280 youth-organized events took place and over 30,000 pledge signatures were obtained.

The next several years were spent reorganizing and building a stronger campaign. The Campus Climate Challenge was formed as a way to encourage students to push their colleges and universities to become more environmentally sustainable. In 2006, SEAC applied for funding from the Energy Action Coalition (EAC) and has been a funded Coalition Partner of the EAC until recently.  2007 is said to be a landmark year for the movement to stop climate change and, through the EAC, SEAC helped organize and recruit for the first Youth Power Shift, held November 2-5, 2007 in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together between 5,000 and 6,000 students and youth and aimed to urge elected officials to pass legislation which would promote clean energy and environmental justice. The following year saw the first Power Vote campaign, the goal of which was to mobilize young adults to vote for clean energy and the creation of green jobs during elections.  Power Shift ‘09 exploded in late February of the following year, gathering over 12,000 youth in Washington, D.C., to further discuss the challenge of climate change and build an even stronger youth movement for environmental justice and clean energy. That same year the EAC funded 11 regional Power Shifts, which took place all over the country in order to continue the momentum of energy formed at the national conference and also allow youth to discuss specific regional challenges. SEAC played an active role in organizing, recruiting, and educating students and youth nationwide for each of these events.

For more on PowerShift visit: http://www.wearepowershift.org/

 

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