Student activism centered on environmentalism began in earnest in the early 1970s, coinciding with the passing of landmark federal environmental legislation such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. In celebration of the first ever Earth Day in 1970, students joined with faculty and policy-makers to hold teach-ins and bring awareness to the causes of environmental justice. In 1971, the student-led Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), which organized around issues of recycling, toxic runoff, and pollution, successfully proposed and pushed for the university's first campus recycling center; run entirely by student volunteers, the UMD recycling center predates that of the surrounding Prince George's County. Efforts intensified after political activist/reformer Ralph Nader came to speak on campus in 1972, which led to the creation of another student organization, the Maryland chapter of the Nader-backed Public Interest Research Group (MaryPIRG). From their inceptions, ECO and MaryPIRG emerged as campus leaders on environmental activism, employing a variety of approaches to tackle issues of pollution, waste, recycling, conservation, and the environmental impact of nuclear energy. Over the next two decades, student activists would continue advocating on behalf of the environment, resulting in the adoption of the recycling center as an official division of the University of Maryland. Following the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol—the first international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases—in the 1990s, multiple student organizations advocated for changes on campus, such as divesting from fossil fuels, protecting natural habitats, reducing waste, and stopping UMD expansion that would cause further deforestation. In the years since, student activism efforts have helped shape and inspire progress at the university, including its Climate Action Plan in 2009, the creation of the Office of Sustainability in 2007, and University President Darryll Pines' 2021 commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2025.
Most of the records collections listed below are a part of the University Publications collection, which consists of a wide variety of printed materials produced by and about the various administrative units, academic departments, student groups, and athletic teams on the UMCP campus. Within this large collection are records of hundreds of Student Organizations and Student Publications. For additional collections, search our archival database here.