Trinity’s chapter of the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition is heading to the University of Missouri to participate in a national conference over the importance and necessity of tiger protection. The club is part of the national coalition of schools, composed of 13 various universities all with one thing in common: an interest in protecting their mascot, the tiger.

The club, formed in March of last year by seniors Alese Descoteaux and Gabriela Sandigo, looks to follow the goals set forth by the national coalition on their webpage, which is to “improve the status of tigers, both captive and wild and take direct action to ensure the survival of the tiger.”

To members of the club like Sandigo, it is crucial to inform and educate students about the facts, and the importance of protecting tigers.

“One thing we are really looking to do is raise awareness,” Sandigo said. “A lot of people aren’t aware that tigers are endangered and nearly extinct – we want to have students be aware of this fact.”

On a local level, the club looks to promote and motivate students to join the cause. To Descoteaux, this impact is important in order to gain support and show the plight of the tiger.

Alongside raising local awareness, the club works on a national level with various other schools, such as Missouri and Clemson.

“Our other goal is to work collaboratively with the T4T National Coalition,” Descoteaux said. “The Coalition is a group of many other tiger-mascot schools who all work together for common goals and initiatives.”

The different universities work together to accomplish their goals, attending various conferences and organizing conference calls to generate new ideas.

“One thing we do is hold weekly conference calls with the other schools,” Sandigo said. “It’s a great way to get new ideas and connect with the rest of the coalition.”

The club also takes part in various initiatives for protecting the tiger, with a trip to D.C. last summer.

“Last summer, members for the coalition traveled to D.C. to meet with congressmen to discuss the Big Cat Bill,” Descoteaux said. “The trip to D.C. was coupled with a letter-writing campaign where the Coalition wrote to our Congressmen in an attempt to garner support for the Big Cats Bill.”

The bill, the Big Cats and Safety Protection Act is a major piece of legislation for the coalition that looks to enact protective laws around the tiger and other big cats.

“This bill hopes to ensure the prohibition of breeding and possession of big cats in private hands,” Descoteaux said. “The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would ensure that private ownership of big cats would be limited to accredited zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.”

The club also has future plans for other trips, including sending Trinity students to India to study and research tigers. Club members will also be attending a conference on April 4-6 at University of Missouri after the success of last year’s conference.

“Last year’s conference was particularly helpful in gaining advice about starting a new club on campus,” Descoteaux said. “We hope to continue that success and learn how we can better reach out to Trinity students and really make ourselves a presence on campus.”

To club members at Trinity and those at other universities, the tiger is an important part of our schools and must be protected. The coalition looks to do just that, through legislation, awareness and any other means available.

“As a club and, furthermore as a Coalition, we have the real power to enact change,” Descoteaux said. “That’s what I think is really cool about the National Tigers for Tigers Conference-it provides a forum for students to collaborate with not only other students, but with adults who have made careers in the fields of conservation or wildlife policy”.