Environmental Rhetoric

The following pictures also illustrate the issue of the source of environmental rhetoric. The photo of the mural is a clear display of a student’s environmental concerns, the voice of a student speaking out for the well being of the environment. The contrasting pictures, however, represent rhetoric that comes from the University. This second group of images also transmits an environmental message, yet it is entirely different than the message conveyed by the first image. This raises questions of authenticity, as well as intent. The University, after all, is a business, and is run like one. It must advertise itself as any other business, yet the lines between advertising and environmentally progressive action are blurred. We know that we must take advertisements with a grain of salt, because there are calculated interests behind them, but do we do the same for UVM’s messages?

The following pictures also illustrate the issue of the source of environmental rhetoric. The photo of the mural is a clear display of a student’s environmental concerns, the voice of a student speaking out for the well being of the environment. The contrasting pictures, however, represent rhetoric that comes from the University. This second group of images also transmits an environmental message, yet it is entirely different than the message conveyed by the first image. This raises questions of authenticity, as well as intent. The University, after all, is a business, and is run like one. It must advertise itself as any other business, yet the lines between advertising and environmentally progressive action are blurred. We know that we must take advertisements with a grain of salt, because there are calculated interests behind them, but do we do the same for UVM’s messages?

UVM has privileged access to our eyes and attention while we are students living and learning within its boundaries and under its rules. Whatever the messages the powers of the university choose to send us, we receive. This is what makes the rhetoric and action of groups such as VSTEP, as well as the International Socialist Organization all the more important. These groups demonstrate ways of resisting and contesting the messages of our University, and simultaneously fighting for a better way. The alternative viewpoints that these groups give space to will be central to achieving environmental progress. In our project, we have tried to give them a space to discuss their groups’ missions and the work they do to accomplish these missions, as well as their takes on the environmental rhetoric and affects of the University.

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