No Carbon Neutrality Conversation Without Adequate Student Representation

Photo: UC Davis

By. S. Drew Story

Since its formation in 2014, the University of California’s Global Climate Leadership Council (UC GCLC) has existed to advise the system and President Janet Napolitano on meeting the carbon neutrality goal set the year prior. Since carbon neutrality is larger than operational changes (more efficient lighting) and requires decisions that aren’t black and white (which types of off-site carbon offset programs to employ), such an ambitious goal understandably requires a variety of perspectives and the inclusion of a diverse group of stakeholders at the table.

Ranging from student representatives to campus chancellors and senior administrators at the UC Office of the President (UCOP), the GCLC spans the spectrum of perceived authority and power within the UC system, but is ultimately quite top-heavy in its representation. This realization was not all that alarming upon first recognition; these high-ranking individuals have the final say in many campus level decisions. But after attending multiple GCLC meetings as a student member of the audience, it has become apparent that the underwhelming diversity of positionality from across the UC is manifesting as a limitation to its effectiveness.

Currently, the UC system is comprised of about 210K undergraduate students, 144K staff members, 54K graduate students, and 21K faculty across the ten campuses. Normalized, that’s about 50% undergraduates, 33% staff, 13% graduate students, and 5% faculty. But below is a breakdown of the current GCLC membership, comprised of about 35 members:

8 Chancellors or Vice Chancellors
7 UCOP Administrators
6 Professors
4 External Advisors
3 Sustainability Staff/Directors
3 Center/Institute Directors
1 Graduate Student
1 Undergraduate Student

It doesn’t take a mathematician to identify that the GCLC does not accurately represent the totality of those who make up the UC. The faculty represent about 17% of the committee, but even this over-representation is not that egregious, comparatively. The senior administrators and staff make up 60% of the committee, while the single undergraduate and graduate students each account for less than 3% of the committee while making up 62% of the UC system as a whole.

Think about that for a second…

Pallavi Sherikar, the lone undergraduate student representative on the GCLC, is responsible for communicating to the committee the needs and desires of 210 thousand students from all across California. For perspective, members of the US House of Representatives each represent about 700K residents, and do so as their full time responsibility (also getting paid a cool $174K/year, while GCLC members volunteer their time). Benjamin Sommerkorn, the lone graduate student on the GCLC represents 54K students, the second largest responsibility only after Pallavi.

For some additional context, the GCLC meetings are fast-paced, high-level conversations about the recent accomplishments of the various working groups, progress of incremental sustainability goals, or updates from external partners. The group only meets 3 times each year, cycling among the campuses, and the 35 member committee with 15-30 additional audience members require a large room that does not lend itself to serious deliberation. Rather, one-way communication with a short Q&A is the norm for the ~6-hour meeting.

Would adding students, both graduate and undergraduate, to balance the representation result in more effective GCLC meetings? It would result in over 100 people trying to have a single discussion about carbon neutrality, but it would probably not accomplish much.

Would restructuring the GCLC membership to keep it at 35 members, but 17 of them being undergraduates, 11 staff, 4 graduate students, and 2 faculty result in the decisions that account for the capacity and reality of actions that can be taken at the campus level? Again, probably not. There does need to be a critical mass of high-level decision makers present if substantial movement on the GCLC recommendations are going to have any chance of being adopted at the campuses.

So then how can the student voice be more appropriately represented in the GCLC?

I suggest two things be considered:

  • Increase the amount of student representatives from 1 to 3. Ensure a diversity of student disciplines and campuses is represented. This would still leave the GCLC smaller than 40 members, but allow for a spectrum of student perspectives, and hopefully lend to the preservation of institutional knowledge as student members cycle through.
  • Actively recruit additional students to serve on the various working groups under the GCLC’s purview. The working groups include the Technical Offsets group, the Applied Research group, and the Student Engagement group, to name a few. It is these working groups that conduct the analyses and develop the reports that are presented and discussed at the GCLC meetings, and student participation at this point in the process can potentially have a greater impact on the direction and flavor of the GCLC recommendations. But a simple newsletter ad or system-wide email soliciting student involvement won’t cut it. (We get enough generic emails as it is.) Each campus should deliberately and sincerely seek out student sustainability leaders and request their engagement with the GCLC working groups. Student sustainability groups already exist on most if not all of the campuses. Reach out to the leaders of these groups. Classes are taught on the intersectionality of engineering and environmental justice. Consult with the faculty teaching these courses to identify potential student contributors. A genuine effort towards engaging students in this manner would go a long way towards increasing student buy-in and engagement with the GCLC and carbon neutrality.

The GCLC has made some positive contributions in advancing the UC towards our carbon neutrality goal, and I believe many of its members do value students and their perspectives regarding how we continue in this effort. But there is also room for significant improvement towards magnifying the student voice in the UC efforts towards holistic sustainability.

Piloting A Sustainability Initiative: Zero Waste At UC Davis’ Resident Halls

UC Davis’ Malcom Hall is piloting a waste reduction program to remove paper from its restrooms by encouraging residents to use their own cloth towel.

By. Daniel Adel

At CSSC, we are dedicated to advancing sustainability at our community and educational institutions. But how does our mission manifest itself in practice, and, at a level tangible to students? What factors make for a successful sustainability campaign or initiative?  These are recurring questions for many of us.

Currently, California colleges and universities are racing to become zero waste institutions. As I reported on last June, the UC adopted a zero waste resolution in 2008 with their complete diversion goal aimed for 2020. The system is already diverting 69% of its solid waste from landfills. Pilot zero waste programs now exist on most UC campuses, and some zero waste initiatives have become standard practice. Initial efforts have targeted the largest sources of waste, such as major events and building construction and demolition.

Hand towel holder at a Malcolm Hall restroom.

One of those pilot zero waste programs was funded by CSSC. Several years ago, we awarded a zero grant mini grant to UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services for the purpose of piloting an initiative called Project Hand Towels. Originally running from 2014-15, Project Hand Towels was spearheaded by students and Student Housing staff to reduce the environmental impact of paper towel waste in the restrooms of UC Davis’ Malcom Hall. The project advocated personal change by encouraging residents to switch from using disposable paper towels to using hand towels provided to them while also being driven by the UC wide goal of going zero waste.

To check up on Project Hand Towel’s progress, I connected with Jenni Porter, who has been deeply involved with the project as the Student Housing’s Sustainability Coordinator.

“Since the completion of the original initiative in spring 2015, a program has been piloted in Malcolm Hall in which paper towels have been removed from the dispensers in the restrooms,” she said. This project picked up where the original left off, spanning the 2015-16 period. Porter clarified that the dispensers themselves were not removed, just the paper towels, in case needed for illness outbreaks. “We temporarily put papers towels back in the restrooms when there was a norovirus outbreak,” she mentioned. “Paper towels were left in the kitchenettes so residents would have access to them for guests or spills.”

To further motivate residents to make this switch during that period, Student Housing held a competition between Malcolm Hall’s four residential floors and provided a prize to the floor who had the largest paper towel reduction. The amount of paper towel rolls that were replaced in each bathroom were recorded each week and tallied per floor. The amount that a floor went through in a week was then compared to their baseline amount. This baseline was acquired by tallying the amount of paper towels a floor used on average per week during the four weeks prior to the competition. The competition winner was determined by which floor had the greatest cumulative decrease in paper towel usage over the four weeks in comparison to their projected baseline usage. The winner of the competition was floor 2, with a 16.7% reduction in paper towel usage.

Lockers at a Malcolm Hall restroom. Each resident has a place to store their towel.

Based on results and resident feedback, Student Housing will be running a another pilot project in Malcolm Hall, but taking a slightly different approach. Because many students chose to use their own hand towels over the free hand towels, they have encouraged the students moving into Malcolm Hall this fall to bring their own towel to use. Towel hooks and push in towel holders are currently being installed in the sinks for residents to hang their hand towel while washing their hands, brushing teeth, etc. The residents now have a place to store their towel in the restroom as each have access to a locker. Student Housing will be holding resident education programs to make the habit of using hand towels more ingrained.

According to Porter, the next step is to meet with leadership to see if Malcolm Hall can continue not providing paper towels in the restrooms and to see if the program can be expanded across campus. “Myself and my supervisor, with support from custodial, have proposed to leadership to remove paper towels from all, or at least one, of our three residential areas so that can run the pilot on a larger scale.”

2020 is now less than three years away. While it is too early to call the “race,” the efforts at UC Davis are commendable and worth exploring at other institutions.

Education for Sustainability Through the UC-CSU Knowledge Action Network

By: Shanti Belaustegui Pockell

On January 1st 2016, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into action. The agenda set 17 particular Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to build a more just and resilient future for the planet and those who inhabit it. Among 17 SDGs is Goal 4, which aims to, “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” More specifically,  SDG 4.7 seeks to:

“By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

With this in mind, how are California’s universities putting sustainable development at the center of their learning?

One budding initiative is the UC-CSU Knowledge Action Network (KAN) for Transformative Climate and Sustainability Education and Action. KAN emerged out of UC President Janet Napolitano’s goal for the University of California to reach carbon neutrality by 2025. Enacted by the Faculty Engagement and Education Working Group section for carbon neutrality, KAN is one aspect of the carbon neutrality initiative and aims to increase faculty engagement within the initiative.

Their purpose statement is: “The emerging UC-CSU Knowledge Action Network for Transformative Climate and Sustainability Education and Action is a collaborative effort of UC and CSU educators to scale out and intensify California students’ literacy in climate change, climate justice, carbon neutrality/greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and sustainability.” The KAN project seeks to merge pre-existing sustainability efforts made by UC and CSU schools as well as inspire new ones, “for the mutual advantage of California students.”

KAN brings together faculty from the UCs and CSUs who have shown a passion for climate change, sustainability, justice, and education to attend workshops and collaborate on creating resources to progress and better education. I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray, the leader of the Environmental Studies program at Humboldt State University (HSU) and the CSU program faculty leader for KAN. She said, “We are now just seeing what all the different campuses are doing in different ways, and there is a real sense that possibilities are limitless.”

Dr. Ray also clarified that the endgame of what KAN is doing is not fully solidified yet; rather goals will emerge organically from four workshops across the state that recently finished. She explained that, while there is no system wide plan of action, there will be an outgrowth of resources and energy around the network as a result of the workshops. Dr. Ray expressed that at the very minimum, those who have participated in KAN intend to generate an online open-access resource that will provide access to assets such as curriculum development, best practices for education for sustainability, and links to resources for funding. In June, KAN will create an online and publicly available virtual conference where everyone who has participated in the workshops will present what they intend to implement on their own campuses and beyond. Dr. Ray noted that, “People are learning and getting ideas from one another, but every campus is different so [outcomes] will be very case-by-case specific.” She stated, “Just by virtue of being involved in the network, I now have a huge list of best practices and ideas. Now it is up to me, to start to find ways to share this.”  

Through the KAN workshops, faculty have been able to identify what needs to be changed in the system to improve the ways in which UCs and CSUs tackle education for sustainability. Dr. Ray mentioned that he first call to action that emerged from the workshops was to increase interdisciplinary learning. When difficult questions arise in KAN such as: How can radical innovation around sustainability and climate change happen? Dr. Ray answers, “If you buy the argument, which I do, that the only way to address a wicked problem is by getting all the tools you possibly can together, and that siloing out is perpetuating the problem, then you need to create the infrastructural incentives to break down those boundaries between disciplines.” Interdisciplinary education would combine knowledge from various areas of expertise–notably the humanities, arts, and creative fields, not just policy or social science, with natural sciences– to create holistic and inclusive solutions.

However important interdisciplinary studies are in education for sustainability, bureaucratic barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration exist that make it tremendously difficult for educators to navigate. For instance, when trying to implement interdisciplinary studies, Dr. Ray noted that questions arise such as “How do you fund co-teaching?” or, “How do you get an interdisciplinary class in the books?” When solving these questions a lot of “bureaucratic bean counting stuff” arises that has to do with different disciplines belonging to different colleges within a larger university, which pose a real challenge to increasing interdisciplinary education.

Dr. Ray also brought up that “there is a real sense of proprietary ego attached to disciplinary pride, and not wanting to corrupt yourself by diluting your work by doing interdisciplinary work.” In the past, there have been tensions between cultural studies and the environmental sciences, for example, that revolve around differing views about objectivity, neutrality, and credibility, as well as  the racialized discriminatory past of the sciences. While these disciplines do have a lot of reasons to be disconnected, Dr. Ray did articulate that by having conversations about differing habits and ideologies within disciplines, she feels that tensions can be overcome, and important insights can emerge from various fields of studies working together. She said, “I don’t need to change a scientist’s mind, we just need to figure out how to work together.”

There is also a sense at KAN that in order to incorporate interdisciplinary education in the classroom you must reach students’ hearts and minds, which also means addressing the grief that accompanies students’ awakening to the extent of the planet’s problems. Education for sustainability may simply not be a priority to students if what they are learning does not seem relevant to them, or that their emotional response to the material is secondary to the content. Dr. Ray said that, “The education process of articulating the interconnections of things is going to create better institutions that do interdisciplinary work. Not a lot of classes are doing that.”

Dr. Ray has already been successful in implementing an interdisciplinary and co-taught course at Humboldt State University. This year, she co-taught a new Environmental Studies/Geography course with physical geography professor Dr. Rosemary Sheriff. The class, “Climate Change: Interdisciplinary Perspectives,” (ENST 480 / GEOG 473) exposed students to interdisciplinary perspectives of climate change as both an environmental and social problem. The class was taught using approaches from the natural sciences as well as the arts and humanities, and was extremely successful. Dr. Ray concludes that although pushing back disciplinary and bureaucratic issues is a challenge, it just takes motivation from administration and teachers from other disciplines to achieve, and is worth the effort.

Dr. Ray mentioned many UC and CSU schools are facing a challenge implementing more effective sustainable education because of integration between sustainability and academia, particularly with regards to infrastructure. At HSU, infrastructure for sustainability education is prominent. With student-run programs such as the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT) and the Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program (WRRAP), finding ways to actively engage in sustainable buildings and institutional practices is easy and accessible to students. However, Dr. Ray notes that this a huge challenge for other institutions. She said that, “In a fantasy world, the infrastructure would be intertwined with academics in order to increase student engagement around sustainability issues.”

Another change the UCs and CSUs are aspiring to make is increasing efficacy among students through community based learning. Dr. Ray expressed that, “You can bring a lot of students in that want to save the world, and have a lot of great notions around these things, but when they learn about the scale of the problem it becomes very daunting and depressing.

So, the question becomes, ‘how can we build the emotional resilience to deal with these things?’ As Dr. Ray pointed out, community based learning is a solution. She said, “You simply have to get kids in the community so they can feel the efficacy and scale out social change. You are not going to get anywhere if people walk into your class and see it will be depressing and say, ‘see you later,’ or it’s all theory and no action.” Through the renewed energy created by KAN, UC and CSU faculty are committed to developing more community based learning programs to increase getting students out into the community, and the community on the campus.

This notion of a need for increased efficacy within sustainability education does not just come from faculty. Environmental Studies student and Humboldt State University Sustainability Champion of 2017 Madi Whaley spoke at the HSU KAN workshop in April about what she feels needs to be further implemented in university education for sustainability.

Whaley stated, “I have realized recently that I don’t think I have the understanding that I think I need of where I can be most effective.” She said, “The Environmental Studies program has done a good job with intersectionality- addressing multifaceted forms of oppression- and has done a good job in identifying intersectional issues and deconstructing issues, but I think that something that I need, and a lot of other students need, is more constructive solutions and strategy built into the curriculum.”

Whaley noted that some of these constructive solutions might include looking at case studies of intersectional solutions, or intersectional strategies and concrete avenues for change that could inspire hope in students. Whaley mentioned, “I have a number of professors who talk about climate change and all of the terrible ecological degradation that is happening, and they say, ‘it is your job to fix it.’ So yeah, we are the generation that needs to fix and address these problems, but when we are not given a platform to do that as we are learning about these problems it is really disempowering, and makes me worry that in the future we won’t be able to work on those constructive solutions or rise to the occasion. So, for the future of addressing climate change, I think we need to start now to empower each other in the classroom and empower each other to change.”

As students, it is of utmost importance to realize our role in what KAN is developing. Dr. Ray stressed that although what KAN is trying to do is fix institutions,the network is mostly trying to implement changes that emerge directly from student feedback that teachers receive in and outside of the classroom setting. Every KAN participant was chosen because they prioritized student voices. Our voice matters, and we have to start reaching out to our faculty and telling them what we need. Below you can find a list of UC and CSU faculty who are part of the KAN. If there is anything you feel you need to better your education for sustainability, or if you simply want to find out more about KAN, you should reach out.

Gabriela Nunez – CSU Fullerton
Nicole Seymour – CSU Fullerton
Lily House Peters – CSU Long Beach
Lucy HG Solomon – CSU San Marcos
Kristina Shull – UC Irvine
Jessica Pratt – UC Irvine
Julie Ferguson – UC Irvine
Jade Sasser – UC Riverside
Stevie Ruiz – CSU Northridge
Rosa RiVera Furumoto – CSU Northridge
Amanda Baugh – CSU Northridge
Allison Mattheis – CSU Los Angeles
Valerie Wong – CSU Los Angeles
David Pellow – UC Santa Barbara
David Cleveland – UC Santa Barbara
Ken Hiltner – UC Santa Barbara
Daniel Fernandez – CSU Monterey Bay
Victoria Derr – CSU Monterey Bay
Corin Slown – CSU Monterey Bay
Ryan Alaniz – Cal Poly SLO
Eugene Cordero – San Jose State University
David Shaw – UC Santa Cruz
Summer Gray – UC Santa Cruz
Chelsea Arnold – UC Merced
Sarah Jaquette Ray – Humboldt State University
Phillip Klasky – San Francisco State University
Mark Stemon – CSU Chico
Enrique Salmon – CSU East Bay
Sahar Nouredini – CSU East Bay
George Roderick – UC Berkeley
Stephen Wheeler – UC Davis
Helene Margolis – UC Davis School of Medicine

Silver Hannon: Divestment, Dialogue, and the Power of the People

Photo: Students sit-in at UCSB’s Cheadle Hall, part of a historic action coordinated across the UCs. The sit-ins led to four UC Chancellors  publicly endorsing the need for fossil fuel divestment.

By. Lillian Zhou

If there was one thing that Silver Hannon could tell all California university students, it would be this: Your voice matters.

Fossil Free UC logo from the Fossil Free UC website

Silver grew up in a conservative-leaning area of Boston, where she remembers having limited outlets for political conversations. When she moved across the country to study at the University of California, Berkeley, Silver found herself on a campus with a decades long legacy of democratic student-driven change. This culture of activism and the recent release of An Inconvenient Truth inspired her to get involved in environmental advocacy by joining a sustainability team (STeam) on campus. As an English major, Silver worked hard to gain footing in a community primarily composed of environmental majors and quickly found empowerment by participating in STeam’s direct action efforts.

Since her first move to get involved, Silver has played an impressive variety of positions and has recently retired as Campaign Director for Fossil Free UC. Fossil Free UC is a UC-wide coalition of activists whose primary goal is to pressure the UC Regents to retract all the investments they have put into the 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest carbon reserves. In 2014, this amounted to about $3 billion with $500 million in coal. Although the Regents voted against divestment in 2014, Fossil Free UC has successfully pressured the Regents to retract $350 million from coal, tar sands, and other fossil fuels since then.

Silver and Cal students sit-in at the UC Investment Office in Oakland, demanding that Regent Sherman, Chair of the Investment Subcommittee, moves to fully divest the UC from fossil fuels. Photo: The Daily Californian

The fight for divestment leaves much room for semantics — semantics backed up by tangible environmental consequences. In her advocacy, Silver has often received responses that seem to dance around truly committed divestment goals. Everything is going into the bucket, we’ll keep talking, and it’ll all be a part of the conversation are all typical of UC Regents responses, who ultimately have the power to define how their commitments to sustainability are realized. For example, while the Regents said no in 2014 to Fossil Free UC’s advocacy for the establishment of a UC divestment team in 2014, they vowed to take a more interdisciplinary approach to investment and put an additional $1 billion into “climate solutions”. Silver later found that this action amounted to a large donation to an environmental fund as opposed to strategic investment in renewable energy or climate adaptation measures. While this may point to progress, Silver always sees more work to be done.

With the billions of dollars left in fossil fuel companies, Silver remains resilient at the forefront of the divestment movement. Although the Regents tend to shy away from the word “divestment” and instead opt for words like “de-risking” and “prudence”, Silver sees these financially meaningful decisions as a product of pressure from the bottom up: “Society as a whole is made up of tons and tons of individuals who hold up these institutions. We don’t need to convince them. If we show enough social power, it would be untenable for them not to do the right thing.”

The UC Regents are appointed by the Governor of California for 12-year terms and have been known to be difficult to access. However, this has not stopped students from mounting a fight all over California with Silver coaching and coordinating information between campuses. On the ground, Silver’s campaigns have employed a variety of tactics to get students active, including petitions, and holding promotional and informational events. She explains, “It is about showing that students, young people and the public recognize the urgency of the climate crisis and, in doing so, want to call out the industry fueling it.”

A divestment protest put on by Fossil Free UW, photo taken by Joe Brusky on Flickr.

Despite the top-down institutions that give the Regents large amounts of financial power, Silver’s efforts on the ground mobilizing students to use their voices have won important victories. The most recent was the divestment of $150 million from several fossil fuel companies including Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco. Both of these companies are major supporters of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Silver affirmed that the Regents’ decision reflected growing social pressure to withdraw support. Other universities across the country have also made concrete moves to divest from fossil fuel companies and other sources of climate change exacerbation. For example, Silver praised Barnard College’s recent divestment away from companies that vocalize skepticism of climate science or oppose climate mitigation policies. It is clear that the political, social, and economic complexity of a problem like climate change is reflected in the diversity of its solutions.

For Silver and Fossil Free UC, divestment from fossil fuels is both an obligation of physical environmental consequences as well as one of moral responsibility. As difficult as the UC Regents may be to reach, she maintains that students and other activists do not need to limit their action to the given narrow windows of access. Students ultimately have the power to vocalize their concerns and mobilize the numbers needed to achieve their goals. Silver emphasizes that adding your own voice to the uproar now is as important as ever: “In our political climate, where the EPA and Paris Climate Accords are on the chopping block, neutrality is a false choice. If a lot of us get together, we can get a lot done. And they will feel it.”

SUSTAINABILITY: THE REBOOT

Does a Changing World Necessitate a Change in Tactics? UCR’s Reborn and Student-led Earth Week as a Tool for Education and Recruitment.

By. Kyle Ritland

The past year has challenged the sustainability community like none other in the recent memory of most students. It has drawn into focus the contrast between their ideals and present circumstances, and made evident the necessity of action to alter the destructive course of our species. As a result, many campuses now teem with restless energy, as concerned students consider what action they might take to address the onslaught of issues facing the planet, and how they might make their voices heard.

At the University of California, Riverside, a reimagined and reborn Earth Week has recently demonstrated the shifts in thinking and organization necessary to incorporate direct student involvement in ways previously overlooked. Rather than simply educating students on green habits and choices, this new Earth Week set out with a different goal in mind: to cast a net further and wider than ever before, and draw in new hearts, minds, and voices toward the vessels of conservation and sustainability.

One of the details that made this year’s Earth Week at UCR unique to those past is the fact that it was almost entirely student-organized. With the weakening of UCR’s Office of Sustainability, there likely would have been no Earth Day or Earth Week events without the intercession of the Graduate Sustainability Network, a student organization formed by a small group of graduate students led by Drew Story and Peter Byrley, with the purpose of improving the environmental and social sustainability of UCR graduate student life.

Not even a year old, GSN is still working to find its feet and its voice in the UCR community, but from the beginning student leaders have fueled the organization with their enthusiasm, taking time away from their official responsibilities to passionately pursue sustainability projects. When it comes to Earth Week, GSN took on the project out of a combination of belief and necessity.

“Previously, there wasn’t a large student contingent interested in organizing Earth Week,” says Drew Story, one of the founders of GSN. “The Office of Sustainability had tried, but it was just two people with full time jobs. And so I think now with the student passion behind it, it’s really become something better.”

That student passion comes in the forms of Ryan Conway and Ella Deyett, a pair of Graduate students in the sciences, who took on the responsibilities of planning, organizing, and executing this new incarnation of Earth Week at UCR. I spoke with Ryan and Ella in the week leading up to the events, hoping to learn more about what drew them to this particular event, as well as their specific intentions in its planning and execution.

Scott Evans, a Ph.D. student in Paleontology, gives a talk on how fossil collecting can answer some of our biggest questions about science. Photo by Peter Byrley.

“The campus had previously had some Earth Day celebrations in the past,” Ryan says. “But we knew that some of the other UC schools were doing much bigger events throughout the entire week. UC Davis has an Earth week where they see 30,000 people show up.” So Ryan and Ella got to work on planning events, incorporating as many different departments as they could.

Ella rattles these off as though she could say them in her sleep: “We have involvement from Dining, from Transportation and Parking Services, we have people from the HUB, we have Vice-Chancellors, we have Risk Management, we have people from the WELL. It started with a few events which we knew we really wanted to plan, and then we included some other department’s events, and it kept growing and growing, and now we have a ton of events happening across a full week.”

When the discussion turns to the expected size of the event, Ryan is quick to clarify that they have no immediate plans to challenge the attendance of UC Davis, or some of the other more established events across the state.

“This year we’re expecting it to stay pretty small,” he says. “But we want it to keep growing in years to come, and use it as a gauge for interest— what the local community cares about as far as sustainability.”

This is an idea which comes up repeatedly in our conversations, and one which has begun to emerge as a founding principle of UCR’s new Earth Week. The descriptions and explanations Ryan and Ella lay out make it clear that they did not organize this event to see the same old faces; they did so with expansion in mind.

“I really would like to reach out to those people who haven’t currently been thinking about these things,” Ryan says. “Hopefully that means that people who are really interested in this stuff are bringing their friends who don’t usually care about it.”

And how would they plan to accomplish this at Earth Week? Through a mix of tradition and novelty in their events. Alongside obviously sustainability-centric events like Vermicomposting and the 0-Waste Workshop are those events with a more general appeal, like natural Tie-Dying, a fundraising 5K run, and, of course, lots of food.

Chris Kane of the organization Post Landfill Action Network gives a talk about zero waste on campus. Photo by Peter Byrley.

Ella describes how a major goal in their planning has been to create a space that’s welcoming to newcomers— an introduction to a new world, for those who may only recently have started to take seriously the tenets of sustainability. Earth Week can be more than workshops and lessons, they tell me. It can be a gathering place for the rising ranks of activists.

“I think a lot of times people have these opinions or mentalities they believe in,” Ella says, “but especially when things aren’t mainstream, or are controversial, it’s hard to promote them. But if you can find groups that already have the same mentality, then that gives you courage to go talk to other people, and share your own ideas.”

And this, at its core, is what UCR’s reborn Earth Week was designed to offer students— a venue in which to share the ideas and concerns they may not otherwise have known how to voice.

Ryan sees this idea manifested most clearly in the Earth Day celebration on Saturday, which they constructed through collaboration with March for Science. “We really aimed for a lot of turnout from both students and the community. We imagine it as a forum to discuss what people are caring about and what they want to see change on campus, as well as throughout Riverside.”

But the larger goal does not end with Earth Day, of course. Ella explains to me how the entire week is in one sense a prompt for further action— a sign to the administration that this issue demands attention. “The goal was to get a lot of support from students, to show the administration that sustainability really is something students care about.” Ella sees student involvement as a powerful message, and a unified student body as a force not to be underestimated. “There are more students than administrators, and the more people we get to care, the more we can get this campus to do.”

Ryan agrees, and believes that an event like Earth Week can help convince students of the power they command. “Every student on campus is casting a vote everyday,” Ryan says. “If students stop purchasing plastic water bottles or disposable plastics, that’s a vote they’re casting. And if they start talking to the administration when they’re bothered by something, whether it’s water waste or disposable plastics, they’re voting against those destructive practices.”

And to him, this is the idea that Earth Week can communicate— that students command much more influence than they realize, especially when they come together.

“I definitely think the concern has started to shift,” Ryan says. “It’s started to move away from that idea of, ‘I care about this, but I can’t make a difference.’ Now it’s our job to show that even if you feel you can’t do a lot as an individual, as a group you can.”

Volunteers set up for the Sustainability 5K. Photo by Peter Byrley.

For many student leaders like Ryan and Ella, this may be a time of challenges and trials, but it is also one of optimism. When support from the UCR administration waned, Earth Week was not abandoned— it was reborn. Why? Maybe because events like these strike a chord in the deep ranks of students who are just beginning to take conservation and sustainability seriously.

“Sustainability is contagious,” Ryan says, as he reflects on the many conversations and months of planning that have gone into the event. “And my goal is just to get as many people to care as possible.”

When I ask Drew how it feels to watch this next generation of student leaders take the reigns of sustainability at UCR, he becomes visibly excited. He compares UCR, where the sustainability movement is young, to the other UC campuses, but he does so optimistically. To Drew, young programs like GSN and events like Earth Week are signs of a new grassroots and student-led style of sustainability.

“In some places where you have a deep tradition of sustainability, your own influence may or may not be all that great,” he says. “Here, we have the potential to make a world of difference. So that’s exciting. And at the same time daunting.”

But that’s what life is for a student— an offering of possibilities and potential, available for acceptance and implementation by anyone with a passion for a brighter future, and a growing belief in the power of their own voice.

Subterfuge, Backlash, and How to Move Forward: The Dismantling and Revival of the Office of Sustainability at University of California, Riverside

By: Kristin Edwards

On January 24, 2017, a group of University of California Riverside (UCR) alumni posted a letter addressed to the school’s administration on an undergraduate sustainability Facebook page. It began thusly, in bolded font:

“This is a statement by alumni of the University of California, Riverside and community members in support of the Office of Sustainability and its staff members.

We strongly disagree with the current administration’s decision to lay off the director and staff members from the Office of Sustainability.”

(https://www.facebook.com/notes/sustainable-ucr/ucr-alumni-letter-of-support-for-office-of-sustainability/583841998477703/)

For many, this would be the first time they heard about the firings, including that of Dr. John Cook, UCR’s Director of Sustainability for the past six years. They took place just before the winter break in December, when most students were focused on taking their finals and preparing to travel home.

The substantial nature of the changes to UCR’s Office of Sustainability were surprising to many, particularly since the student body had received a message in mid-December which celebrated the strides the school had taken charted a path forward towards becoming a greener campus. The letter made no mention of what had taken place in the Office of Sustainability, and there would be no public announcement. The only hints it contained that something catastrophic had taken place were a reassurance that “the Office of Sustainability is not going away” and a note at the end of the message to contact an unfamiliar name for more information about sustainability on campus.

I tried to disentangle this story for myself, looking for any relevant public announcements or documents, but the firings had taken place in secrecy, known only to the Office of Sustainability and its supervisors.

Strife and Confusion on Campus

“We just thought they were continually weakening the Office of Sustainability. John Cook was the big blind-side.”

Ben Sommerkorn, an engineering PhD student at UCR and president of the Graduate Sustainability Network (GSN), worked closely with the previous Office of Sustainability. I met with him to discuss the changes that had taken place and the effects they are having on student initiatives.

“This whole thing has been shrouded in mystery,” he tells me in a campus coffee shop, eager to vent even though he has been discussing this situation for months. Sommerkorn wasn’t sure exactly when he heard that Dr. John Cook had been fired. He says that in the first few days of December he and other students closely associated with the office had gotten wind that four of the five sustainability staff members would not have their contracts renewed for 2017. Even as they prepared their response to the administration in objection to this decision, they didn’t know what was still to come. In the second week of December, the news broke. “They didn’t just fire him, they destroyed his position.”

Cook had not only been removed as a staff member, his position had been deleted from UCR’s system, which would prevent it from being recreated for at least a year. Sommerkorn tells me that Cook had “structural disagreements” with the administrators directly above him, Maria Anguiano, the Vice Chancellor of Planning and Budget, and Jeff Kaplan, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Capital Asset Strategies, and believes Cook was pushed out because of his resistance to their plans for campus reorganization. Anguiano authored the email message sent out to students and included the previously unknown Kaplan as the point of contact for sustainability at UCR with no acknowledgement of the change.

UCR at Night, Photo Credit: Xsolidsnail, Wikimedia Commons

“Firing John was kind of ridiculous; they were already restricting the Office of Sustainability for years,” says Peter Byrley, a member of GSN and the sustainability liaison for the Graduate Student Association here at UCR. Peter tells me that the office’s funding had been cut strategically over the years and Cook had become restricted in what he was able to do on campus. Despite this, Cook was told “he wasn’t doing enough” by Anguiano and Kaplan shortly before he was let go.

Sommerkorn described the method by which Cook’s position was strategically weakened in order to justify his firing as a corporate tactic, used to justify the removal of staff that are perceived to be in the way but who haven’t actually committed a fireable offense.

Despite the administration’s efforts to keep the changes out of public view, there was a strong pushback from those in the loop, particularly graduate students and faculty. The faculty senate in particular was upset by the decisions that were made without any discussion with them and other campus stakeholders.

Political strife was already present on campus due to perceived overreach by the Chancellor and Provost that led the faculty senate to consider firing both administrators. For many this was just another example of the administration refusing to listen to the interests of its faculty, staff, and students. As put by Sommerkorn, “They thought the Office of Sustainability was less important and had less love from faculty and students than it did. I think they stumbled.”

According to Byrley, students began sending messages of disapproval to offices all over campus. When the word spread to alumni, many became upset that the campus they had given their time and money to would make such a drastic change without considering student input. Byrley described a Facebook chat group of over 100 alumni discussing the firings and what they could do to speak out, but so far there has been little administrative response to their concerns.

One of the focuses of student ire besides the loss of Cook himself, was the firing of Delphine Faugeroux and Fortino Morales, the Green Lab and R’Garden coordinators, respectively. The R’Garden is a community garden on UCR’s campus that provides fruits and vegetables to campus dining and students in need as well as offering individual plots for community members to learn to grow and harvest their own food. Green Labs is a program that helps labs become more sustainable by introducing ways to reduce water and electricity use as well as waste production.

Both of these positions are seen by the campus as vital, with the Green Labs program likely to soon be required by the UC system according to involved students and the R’Garden providing food security and an important educational outlet for students and the Riverside community. The administration quickly responded to the backlash and offered both Faugeroux and Morales their jobs back, but their actions had already damaged campus trust in the security of the sustainability movement. 

The R’Garden Entrance, Photo Credit: Kristin Edwards

Anguiano responded to one professor’s email request for justification with a seven-point plan for the future of sustainability at UCR. The proffered plan accurately described the actions currently being taken by the administration but was non-specific in its goals and allegedly outdated. It is unclear when the plan was created: before the firings took place, or after students and faculty demanded to know what was going on. This response also did not make clear why the changes were made when they were and why stakeholders were not included in the discussion and planning. Sommerkorn says he “[doesn’t] trust that that was their impetus, that they were looking out for sustainability. Why wouldn’t you have kept us in the loop?”

Know Your History

One group of alumni had gotten wind of the changes much earlier, due to their close ties to the Office of Sustainability staff and faculty members on campus, and composed a letter (see link above) to the administration, the faculty senate, and the campus newspaper. Gina Gonzalez, Eli Tizcareño, Pavan Rami, Yassamin Kavezade, and Yesenia Gurrola were all tightly involved with the sustainability movement as undergraduates. Gonzalez, Tizcareño, Rami, and Gurrola all signed their letter as co-founders of the R’Garden.

A mural on a shed at the R’Garden, Photo Credit: Kristin Edwards

I spoke to Yassamin Kavezade over the phone about her experiences with the Office of Sustainability and the letter she co-authored. Kavezade agrees with other students I spoke with that it was only a matter of time before this happened, but describes the way in which the changes were made as “problematic.” Kavezade explains, “As a former student leader, I was upset. At this point, the closure of the Office of Sustainability is a reflection of the community we live in at UCR.” She says that she heard about the firings through a sustainability staff member whom she would prefer to remain unnamed. “This is a loss that they need to take on responsibility for and we need a transparent, community-centered, student- and faculty-involved plan to move forward.” Kavezade emphasizes that “the purpose of that office was intersectionality” and that the administration should remember that going forward. She, like many students who knew him, credits the effectiveness of the office to Cook’s unique abilities and commitment to living what he preached.

Kavezade is echoed by her peer, Eli Tizcareño, who worked to found the R’Garden after a previous community garden was set to be scrapped. “One of our biggest supporters was John Cook who was really an ally to the students.” This went against the mold of a white male administrator, something that surprised Tizcareño and made her appreciate him more. Tizcareño also spoke with me about her motivation for speaking out even after leaving campus: “Knowing the history is important.” With the election of Trump and a seemingly grim future for sustainability under his administration, the effective elimination of the Office of Sustainability “is just something else that encourages us to speak out.”

The alumni received little response to their letter. They said that no student organizers reached out to them, although they did get a chance to speak to the Highlander, UCR’s student newspaper. One administrator, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jim Sandoval, did reach out, but he only invited the letter-writers in to talk one-on-one and failed to address any of their concerns.

Tizcareño’s message to the current administration is that “the most important thing is to be listening to the students and the folks who have given them so much and done amazing things, to value student voices since they are ignored and invisible in many spaces.” In her organizing experience, she has found that “building real relationships that are honest and true” is the most important factor for success, but the lack of transparency thus far leaves students wanting.

“The State of Sustainability at UCR”

I had the chance to attend the first public sustainability forum since Kaplan de facto replaced Cook as the Director of Sustainability, which was put on as part of Earth Week and titled “The State of Sustainability.” It was advertised as a chance to ask questions and discuss changes to UCR’s sustainability efforts and was attended mostly by those already involved on campus – people used to being in the loop who have now found themselves left out of it.

Kaplan opened the forum with a short presentation about the overall plans for sustainability moving forward before asking the audience to share their own comments and questions. The primary focus was on the shape the Office of Sustainability could take in the future.

UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox is planning to reinstate the Sustainability Steering Committee, a group whose purpose is to guide the Chancellor’s decision-making about sustainability projects and directives on campus. It will be made up of a yet undetermined mix of faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, administrators, and staff from across campus. The exact make-up is still up in the air, but discussions are taking place amongst administrators and faculty to determine what they can agree on as fair representation.

The original plan had the revived Steering Committee meeting for the first time in March, but it has been stalled by the planning process. Kaplan hopes for a new start date in May, but a budget has yet to be put forth by the Chancellor, limiting interest from potential members. The Chancellor has also yet to establish the sort of authority the committee will have, since its influence can only go so far as the Chancellor’s desire to direct sustainability on campus. If Wilcox would rather leave such decision-making to other campus bodies, then the committee’s influence would be limited.

Along with this committee, the school is considering hiring four managers that would be in charge of sustainability initiatives in their respective domains and report back to a coordinator position separate from the director position currently held by Kaplan. Theoretically, the new positions would help to unify sustainability efforts at UCR, which are hampered by a lack of communication between invested groups. These managers seem to be a key factor of Kaplan’s plan for sustainability at UCR, but their hiring has not been confirmed as of the writing of this article.

The wariness of organizers during the meeting was clear, and Kaplan could not provide many of the details that were requested. He made several promises to get back to members of the audience, but it was unclear when this information would be available.

One of the reasons for the caution of attendees was the recent resignation of Maria Anguiano, who presumably made the decision to fire most of the members of the Office of Sustainability. Students in the room wondered if her replacement would be able to roll back the changes currently being enacted and throw the system into disarray again. “This is a bigger effort than me or the [Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget]” said Kaplan, emphasizing that the new VCPB would have to get approval from Wilcox to make any substantial changes. However, he also encouraged those in attendance to become part of the selection and hiring process. According to an email sent out to staff and faculty, Wilcox has said the process will be “open, transparent, and inclusive,” but Kaplan was surprised to hear this message was not sent out to students. In the end, he told the audience to “challenge them,” and make sure that whoever is hired will listen to their concerns and share their vision.

Kaplan’s work as the new head of sustainability at UCR has been met with mixed emotions by many, particularly those who had worked with Cook previously. Kaplan’s new job was added onto his old one as an Associate Vice Chancellor, meaning he essentially has been asked to fill two positions. “I don’t know how much they planned on Jeff doing all of these things. This guy already has a job, but the argument against John was that he wasn’t effective enough,” argues Sommerkorn. Some students also have concerns over his qualifications, since Kaplan has no experience working in a sustainability-related field. It’s not all ill will, though. Peter Byrley “got the sense he was listening to what we were saying, but he was sort of overwhelmed.” He also mentioned that Kaplan had “come through on a bunch of things. He provided funding for Earth Week events.”

Looking Forward

“Maybe we’ll see some gains; maybe it will be positive.” Sommerkorn is not completely pessimistic about the future of sustainability at UCR, even though he finds it hard to trust the new Office of Sustainability. “There was no need for a nine month lag time, which to me speaks to the reality that this wasn’t their goal.” It was likely only through student and faculty pushback that the current reorganization resembles something democratic and inclusive, but the voices that stood up for their campus have possibly helped create a more effective system than the one before, which relied on Cook’s passion and connections to function. Byrley agrees that if done right, this new plan could be just what the campus needs to keep disconnected groups like Dining and Facilities on the same page and in line with the Office of Sustainability’s goals.

“I would say that we really need all of the departments and students to work together. We need to get together more. We need centralized open forums and task forces to get things done,” says Byrley. “In the end, everybody is trying to do a good job.”

While many aspects of sustainability at UCR remain undetermined, stakeholders can look forward to a series of public forums in the future. Kaplan has offered to have them as frequently as desired and on any topics requested. It is a step towards transparency that is much needed on a campus that will find building “honest and true” relationships, per Tizcareño’s request, difficult in the future.

Perspectives from UCOP: Students in Sustainability

S. Drew Story | November, 30, 2016

A despondent cloud hung over the Hay Barn at UC Santa Cruz on November 9. The University of California’s Global Climate Leadership Council (GCLC) had convened for their last meeting of 2016, with fewer than 12 hours having passed since Donald Trump had been announced President-elect of the United States.

Janika McFeely (left) and Hilary Bekmann (right)—support staff with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP).

 

Long tables, scattered with organic coffee, compostable silverware, and various breakfast accoutrements, held the nametags of UC big shots and other GCLC members; vice chancellors, deans, chief officers, vice presidents, professors. Two students had a seat at these tables, and the rest of the expansive barn was filled with UCOP support staff and half a dozen students from across the UC system, present to observe and chime in when the student voice needed magnifying.

Unsurprisingly, it did not take long for a GCLC member to break the silence, but the attempt at a joke fell flat on those of us, the students, who are currently preparing to break into careers that embody sustainability. We who have grand visions of being participants in shifting cultural attitudes for the next 40+ years were just thrown a curveball that most of us are still reeling from. In a matter of moments, we went from relatively conducive federal conditions to a predictably stark contrast of impediments and downright obstruction, the effects of which would remain unknown and perpetually immeasurable.

The students in attendance were either local UCSC students, or Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellows who had been financially supported to participate in the meeting. Our familiar CNI support administrators were in attendance; Matt St Clair, Abigail Reyes, Janika McFeely, and Hilary Bekmann all made the trip. During the first coffee break, entire conversations were made between us students and these allies with eye contact alone. They understood our burgeoning uncertainty, our struggle to not abandon hope. And they acknowledged our uneasiness without trivializing it, yet required of us to acknowledge the position of influence we all still held as students.

After a few minutes, I finally asked Janika, Sustainability Specialist at UCOP, and Abby Reyes, Director of Sustainability at UC Irvine, “Now what?”

With resolve and empathy, they reminded us that not only do we all still have a role to play, the necessity of our involvement and success was newly emphasized. We still had a UC-wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. We still have a zero-waste campaign. Echoing a sentiment I had thought through earlier that morning, Abby said our position in California would shelter us from some of the backsliding that accompanied the shift in values held by the US President-elect. If nothing else, that made our role as student advocates more pronounced. All eyes would be trained on California for the next four years, to continue to be a world leader in sustainability. The birthplace of cultural movements, CA higher education campuses, would now be referenced even more.

Since the time had come for the rubber to meet the road for student involvement, I asked Janika and Hilary to sit down with me after the meeting concluded and let me interview them for their perspective on the role of students in institutional sustainability at the UC going forward. The role of student activists is often easier to understand: show up, unify, be loud, and demand action. But how students fit into the machine of systematic change is not so apparently clear. Ben Sommerkorn had previously shared with me what he thought the student role was, but I expected these UCOP administrators to have a different take on the matter.

“Our job is to serve the mission and you are the mission,” Hilary Bekmann, Associate Director of Sustainability at UCOP remarked in her down-to-business Australian accent. “You are supposed to be telling us what we are supposed to be doing, ‘These are our expectations of you,’ and then keep us accountable to doing that.”  

“So we can send an angry e-mail to Janet Napolitano and it will be read?”

According to Janika, all correspondence to the President gets filtered through the appropriate chains of communication and makes it to the corresponding staff, who then address the messages and respond themselves. “OP responds to consensus, and we are happy to do what the campuses want.” So if students want something, she said, they need to get their campus on board, and then use their allies at other campuses to spread the notion.

What gets in the way of that, Janika laments, is that system-wide decisions and actions almost always outlast a student’s tenure on campus. Efforts like CNI were many years in the making, and will last at least eight more years. She admits that administration struggles to know how to engage students for these types of long-term efforts.

Not only that, Hilary mentions, but it is inherently more difficult to inspire passion in students for a cause the university has already committed to. It is simpler for students to get riled up and demand carbon neutrality than it is to be involved in the nitty gritty of implementing that change. But that is what administration needs from students.

Chancellors accept instruction from UCOP fairly readily. It is the vice chancellors responsible for accommodating and enacting these new directives that are between a rock and a hard place. And without student input, they are left to their own devices to produce the deliverables.

Building on this notion, Janika emphasized that a significant step forward would be for students to remember that administrators are human, too. Most of them care about students, but their daily priorities are often out of sync with what students expect or want to see. So when students can talk with administration about what matters to them, and be prepared to work with them to meet their objectives in a way that satisfies the student desires, progress can be made at the campus-level, which in turn leads to change at the system level.

If administration never hears from students, except that they are dissatisfied, they cannot accomplish what matters to them or in the way they wish. One place to start on each campus is the offices of the Vice Chancellor for Business and Administration Services and Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget, or their equivalents. These positions are the campus-level decision makers for most things related to sustainability.

In a time of uncertainty and apprehension for the future, students should take heart that we have a role to play in the sustainability of our campuses. It is the job of our administration to listen to us. Not only must we ask for what we want, we have to be willing to continually engage in the process of affecting change. We cannot expect our demands to be met without following through on the process to completion. This necessitates a culture of involvement, not a disparate group of individuals, and dissemination of knowledge and networks. When it is time for student leaders to move on, their legacy will sputter if they fail to equip and empower students to take up the mantle in their stead.

The role of students is large, and has perhaps never been more important than now.

Fasting for the Climate: Building Grassroots Power From Warsaw to California

By: Katie Hoffman, with contributions from Emily Williams and Ophir Bruck

Just days after super-typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, nine students addressed the Regents of the University of California for the fifth time demanding UC officials, particularly newly appointed president Janet Napolitano, take swift and meaningful action to address the climate crisis by divesting the UC’s endowment from the 194 publicly traded coal, oil, and gas companies fueling it. Today, UC students are joining with youth around the world in a day of solidarity with the people of the Philippines and their lead UN climate negotiator, Naderev Saño, who is on his 11th day hunger-striking for the duration of the 19th UN climate talks or until meaningful international action is taken. Moved to action by Naderev’s fast and the devastation in the Philippines, students are fasting and holding vigils across California and the nation today to highlight the connections between climate change, inequality, and the need for bold institutional leadership.

Yolanda_FFUCSolidarity

For the Fossil Free UC campaign, the statewide #WeStandWithYou day of action comes just after a key meeting with high ranking financial administrators within the UC Office of the President (UCOP) in Oakland Tuesday, November 19. At their second meeting with UCOP, student representatives were joined by shareholder advocacy and socially responsible investment experts from As You Sow and Trillium Asset Management. Both off campus organizations worked alongside students in the meeting, lending their expertise to Fossil Free UC’s call for the Regents to swiftly adopt a five year plan to stop investing in new fossil fuel assets, drop all existing assets in the industry, and roll out proactive climate investment strategies over the next five years.

UC Berkeley Solidarity.

UC Berkeley Solidarity.

UD Davis Solidarity

UD Davis Solidarity

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In the unnamed3meeting, the students and their allies argued there is no statistical evidence that illustrates investing away from fossil fuels into various sustainable solutions will hurt returns on investments for shareholders. In fact, as articles by HSBC Global and the Carbon Tracker Initiative have suggested, the risks of remaining invested in fossil fuels might be greater than what traditional financial experts are factoring into their current models and investment strategies. Since 2012 there has been a flood of publications addressing the finite nature of the carbon industries’ business model and the need to set limits on fossil fuel extraction so that 80% of their proven carbon reserves remain underground. This mounting evidence suggests that if the current overvaluation of fossil fuel stocks proves correct, the potential economic tidal waves could parallel or exceed those during the sub-prime crisis that hit in 2008.

While UC officials showed elements of sympathy toward Fossil Free UC in the meeting last Tuesday, students were told ultimately that no decisions about UC investment policies could be made until the administration hires a new Chief Investment Officer in January 2014. As evidenced by costly and tragic disasters from Superstorm Sandy to Typhoon Haiyan, the devastation wrought by climate change will not wait for inefficient negotiations to address much needed investment in mitigation and adaptation efforts. As the most prestigious public academic institution in the world,  the University has both an opportunity and an obligation to take bold and meaningful action on climate change by removing its implicit support from the companies fueling it and reallocating funds towards local and global climate solutions. As such, Fossil Free UC will continue pressing the administration to expedite the process of divestment, with the goal of adopting a fossil free investment policy by the end of the academic year.

betterpicconvergence

In an ideal world, student led campaigns targeting portfolios would not exist, nor would fasts to honor preventable deaths and unnecessary destruction. Haiyan is a tragic and timely reminder that we do not live in an ideal world when it comes to addressing and rapidly correcting the systematic destruction of our only home. Grassroots campaigns like Fossil Free grew in response to the ineffective state of international and national policy making, which is utterly skewed in service of international climate change profiteers, like the extractive industries and the nations most reliant on them. According to recent UCSB graduate Emily Williams who attended the 19th Conference of the Parties in Warsaw, the conference “is not going to produce the binding treaties we need because of the disproportionate influence of those industries with a vested interest in preserving the status quo.” She continued, “it’s up to us, as individuals and institutions, to really spur the change we want to see; we need to stop the corporate influence and free ourselves from the industry whose business model is at the expense of our species’ survival.” Divestment campaigns, particularly at public institutions like those in California, are a critical front in the larger struggle to spur the change needed to weather the coming ecological and economic storms.

While many question the tactic of divestment given the complex nature of the climate problem, the coordinated efforts of youth across the globe today in solidarity with the victims of Haiyan illustrate just how powerful youth climate networks have gotten. Fossil Free UC joins more than 300 student-led campaigns across the country, some of which have seen recent divestment victories like De Anza Community College and San Francisco State University. Many campaigns, like those at Brown and Harvard, have recently come up against what may seem like insurmountable hurdles with administrators who refuse to adopt fossil free investment policies. Ultimately however, like the people of the Philippines and all others facing the devastating causes and effects of climate degradation, the Fossil Free campaign and climate justice movement will only adapt and grow more powerful.

 

 

 

Those with pictures from the #WeStandWithYou day of Action can send them to Emily(at)sustainabilitycoalition.org

We also ask that you please consider donating to relief efforts: http://nafconusa.org/

UC Davis

Davis, CA

Chapter Name: Campus Center for the Environment (CCE)
Chapter Email: ucdcce@gmail.com
Chapter Website: cce.ucdavis.edu
Representatives: Maisie Borg and Danielle Doedens

Mission Statement

CCE strives to promote inter-group collaboration among campus organizations, while providing various environmental opportunities and resources for all students.

Current Projects

  • Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) – Spring quarter 2 or 4 unit student-run guest lecture class that incorporates Action Research Teams (ARTs) which initiate and support sustainable projects led by students and community members throughout campus

  • ARTs: Building an effective and educational aquaponics system on campus, Developing a well-researched timeline for coal divestment for UC Davis, Expanding both the seed library and native bee sanctuary at the Domes, Implement e-waste recycling receptacles across campus, Expanding Project Compost, Creating institutional memory for the Salad Bowl Garden

  • Field Guide to Sustainable Living in Davis – Fall/Winter quarter 2 unit student-led class aimed towards freshmen to introduce them into the sustainable networks that exist in Davis sponsored by Steve Wheeler of the Landscape Design and Architecture Department

  • Red Cup Clean Up – A project taking one-use red cups and placing them in TerraCycle recycling program to re-purpose them

  • Resident Garden – Running a completely organic garden for the freshmen living in the dorms.

  • Continue to provide support for CSSC connectivity and campaigns.

  • Plans and promotes documentary screenings on campus to advocate for sustainable living engagement.

  • Provides internship opportunities for students who would like to head an environmental project on campus or shadow one of our staff members.

  • Hosts sustainable craft events with the purpose of fostering collaboration between our campus sustainability organizations.

  • Sells compostable cups, plates and utensils to various organizations and people for campus events at no profit.

  • Staff currently shares a strong relationship with dining services through the Go Green Grant committee.

  • We maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the John Muir Institute for the Environment, and the office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.

 

UC Santa Barbara

Goleta, CA

Chapter Name: Environmental Affairs Board
Chapter Email: ucsbeab@gmail.com
Chapter Website: http://eab.as.ucsb.edu/
Representatives: Kori Lay and Emily Williams

Mission Statement

The Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) is a branch of UCSB’s Associated Students Government and is the largest and most active environmental group on campus. The charge of EAB is to protect, preserve and enhance the environment, principally at UCSB and its surrounding communities. We focus on ecology, energy, food, climate change, water policy and conservation, the economy, environmental justice and other issues. We coordinate and coalition-build with other groups to promote environmental perspectives and sustainability throughout the University and its surrounding communities, as well as at the state, national, and global level.

Current Projects

  • Divestment: The UCSB branch of the campaign to get the University of California to divest from fossil fuels

  • Associated Students Green Bill: developing and enforcing a bill that makes all A.S. Groups practice sustainable purchasing policy

  • UCCE: University of California for Clean Energy; campaign whose goal is to get UCSB to run on 100% clean energy by 2020
    Earth Week: An environmental week leading up to UCSB’s Earth Day Celebration; each day will focus on a certain issue

  • Earth Week: An environmental week leading up to UCSB’s Earth Day Celebration; each day will focus on a certain issue

CSSC Council Representatives

Kori Lay

Major: Chemistry and Environmental Studies
Hometown: Port Washington, NY
Graduation/Transfer: June, 2014

About Me

I love being outside and eating delicious, fresh, and healthy food in the company of good people! I tend to quote movies…a lot…If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would definitely be mangos.

How I got involved in CSSC

I attend the Fall 2012 Convergence at Butte and I basically fell in love with the CSSC mission! I decided to attend the leader retreat to get more involved and now represent my school on the council!

The role of student action in sustainability

Students have the ability to make changes across the country and even the world! When we connect and come together, students are unstoppable. Students are leading the way in the sustainability movement, and we will not fail!

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most

I am most interested in the environmental and social justice aspect of sustainability. Everyone has a right to clean air and clean water!

Projects I have worked on

I am currently on the fossil fuel divestment team at my school.

Emily Williams

Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Cupertino, CA
Graduation/Transfer: August, 2014

About Me

I am a 4th year environmental studies major. I am the State-Wide Affairs Coordinator for our environmental org, the Environmental Affairs Board (EAB). I am also the campaign coordinator for the divestment campaign. I live in a student housing co-op, and one of my favorite pass-times is cooking with my 17 housemates. Last year, I studied abroad in Bordeaux, France for 10 months, which was an incredible experience. Though I miss speaking French, I love being in Santa Barbara with such wonderful people and the ocean.

How I got involved in CSSC

I was elected to the State-Wide Affairs Coordinator position in EAB. The CSSC representative is an institutionalized position within EAB that goes with my position. My first leadership retreat was Summer 2012, and since then, I’ve been hooked.

The Role of Student Action in Sustainability

Students are in a unique position where they can speak the truth, while everyone else plays to their roles. Students are not hindered by politics, or influenced by their jobs–rather they are often the ones who are the first to speak out about an issue. They can bring issues back onto the political agenda and back in the public view, and have often been the source of great social change.

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most

I am most interested in energy, and finding a sustainable balance for it at the intersection of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Projects I have worked on

I am currently the campaign coordinator at UCSB for the divestment campaign. So far, this has entailed working with EAB and reaching out to other groups on campus to spread awareness of the campaign as well as passing a resolution through our A.S. Senate in support of the Regents divesting.
I was also involved in Project We Own It, where we raised $200,000 to preserve our local food cooperative.

 

UC Los Angles

Los Angeles, CA

Chapter Name: E3: Ecology, Economy, Equity
Chapter Email: N/A
Chapter Website: www.e3ucla.org
Representatives: Mahsa Ostowari and Sargam Saraf

Mission Statement
To unite and empower the UCLA community to take transformative action towards a more sustainable future.

Current Projects
E3 works on campus and local campaigns relating to issues such as climate change, waste management, Fair Trade certification, urban gardening, and food responsibility.

Additionally, E3 participates in community service and social events like potlucks, camping trips, hikes, bike rides, beach clean-ups, habitat restoration, and more!

Preparing our Earth Month activities which include a speaking panel and fair.

We are also working with our student government for our Fair Trade Campaign!

We also put on two Farmer’s Markets a quarter!

CSSC Council Representatives

Mahsa Ostowari

Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Graduation/Transfer: June, 2014

About Me
I’m a third year environmental science major at UCLA, and I just love the outdoors. I love walking, hiking, swimming and doing anything that is outside! I’m excited to get involved with CSSC and be a representative for my school, and help bring more sustainability to UCLA!

How I got involved in CSSC
I got involved with CSSC through a friend who was a past representative! She told me about what she did and I decided that I wanted to be a part of CSSC and what it stands for!

The Role of Student Action in Sustainability
I think student action has one of the biggest roles in the sustainability movement! We, the students, are the future of this country and the world and so we can make a difference! We are the ones that will experience all the environmental crises that are going to come, and so it is our duty to make a change now so this does not happen.

The main role, I believe, is the simple fact that the students will be using their education (the education they receive from their schools, clubs, and conferences/convergences), to improve conditions for sustainability in the world. They will be the future of the movenement, and how it sustains itself.

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most
The ecological aspect of sustainability interests me most! I am really passionate about protecting, restoring, and maintaining healthy ecosystems and natural systems and using the natural resources from them in a sustainable way.

Projects I have worked on
I was previously at Team Green member for my dorm, and we worked to bring awareness of different environmental issues such as sustainability and fair trade to the residents of our dorm hall.

UC Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

Chapter Name: Education for Sustainable Living Program
Chapter Email: eslp@ucsc.edu
Chapter Website: http://eslp.enviroslug.org
Representatives: David Shugar and Rebecca Wood

Mission Statement

The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) is a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort to reshape the way we learn, effectively mentor students, and engage in projects that support the sustainable development of the University of California and Santa Cruz community. Using models of experiential learning, ESLP supports student-led sections, guest speakers and inspires participants to internalize the concept of sustainability within academia and greater society.

History/Achievements

The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) formed as a Statewide Coalition in 2003 within the California Student Sustainability Coalition, a UC-wide collaborative student effort to realize sustainability throughout the UC, CSU and CCC systems. Currently there are accredited ESLP programs in UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and UC Los Angeles.

At UCSC, ESLP student organizers worked throughout the year to plan our lecture series, train facilitators, and promote student learning projects and collaborative education models. Since 2004, ESLP has enrolled over 2000 students, hosted over 100 guest speakers and created over 50 student led sections. Every winter quarter, ESLP organizers facilitate the accredited 5-unit Winter Training Seminar which trains facilitators to develop a section syllabus and practice facilitation skills. In spring, ESLP offers the 5-unit and 2-unit sections through in conjunction with a weekly guest lecture series. In 2011-2012, ESLP had 11 organizers which received 2-units, 5-units or paid positions. The 5 unit CLEI 160 Winter Training Seminar class prepared 17 facilitators from 12 cross disciplinary majors to create 8 5-unit and 3 2-unit sections. Section topics ranged from sustainable agriculture, permaculture, water conservation, waste reduction, green building, aquaponics, environmental art and social movements towards sustainability.

In spring of 2012, 32 students enrolled in 2-unit sections and 100 students enrolled in 5-unit sections. Many of the sections learning projects engaged students throughout campus such as the The Drop you Own Drip section which sent mock water bills to students on campus and created a competition between the colleges to see who could reduce the most water. The Sustainable Living Spaces section performed an audit of the Stevenson dorm to engage students to reduce energy and resource consumption. The Zero Waste class worked on a zero waste campus move out during the end of the year. These are just some examples of how the 132 students engaged with the campus community through sustainable learning projects.
Throughout 2011-2012 ESLP, hosted 14 guest speakers which covered topics such as; mayan agroecology, food justice, ecological design, rain and grey water design, alternative transportation, renewable energy, global warming and local movements towards creating a sustainable world. ESLP also collaborated with the African American Resources Center and Brain Mind Consciousness Society to host Van Jones during winter quarter to speak about rebuilding our vision of society and learning to be culturally inclusive to form creative solutions. We also contributed to the Wiser Together event in collaboration with the World Café, which had a attendance of approximately 200 people. This event featured locally sourced food and gave a space for students to connect with community members and local resources.

Current Projects

During this year of 2012-2013, ESLP is currently training facilitators to teach their sections for Spring Quarter. There are 11 sections being proposed which covers topics such as Santa Cruz ecology, waste management, global resources, food systems, learning gardens, eco-psychology, indigeneity synthesis into sustainability and dynamic education models of socio-environmental justice. We are also planning on hosting guest speakers in Spring Quarter related to the topics of the Great Turning from the work of Joanna Macy, Activism and the Sierra Club, Environmental Justice through Art, Buckminster Fuller Ecological Design principles, Permaculture and Sustainability Consciousness, Food Systems, Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Social Activism.

Goals

A major goal of the organization is to create innovative multidisciplinary and collaborative sustainability curriculum at and become more integrated with UCSC academics. This includes further institutionalizing the ability for the spring course to count for student curricular requirements and for section facilitators to receive upper-division elective credit within their individual majors, which as of now only applied to Environmental Studies major in certain instances. Another objective in this goals is to become a qualified GE course covering the GE topic GE PE-E of Perspectives: Environmental Awareness. We currently do not fulfill this status have applied to fulfill this GE without success. We want to continue conversation with the Academic Senate and collaborate on ways student led sustainability education model can be integrated in the academic structure of UCSC. There is also the possibility of a Sustainability Technology minor being created at UCSC, and ESLP is in conversation of becoming an elective to the minor.

In addition ESLP has the goal of more thoroughly organizing online resources and supporting the creation of ESLP across the state of California.

Opportunities

At UC Santa Cruz, ESLP offers many opportunities. We have year-long organizer positions that can be filled through internship and eventually paid position. If you want to facilitate a section, you can apply to become a facilitator near the during fall quarter to enroll in the Winter Training Seminar. In spring, ESLP offers both a 5-unit and 2-unit course, which incorporates student facilitated sections and a weekly guest lecture series that any student in UCSC can enroll in.

ESLP at UC Santa Cruz also wants to support the creation of student led sustainability education program across California. If you would like any support in developing a student led course, please contact ESLP and join the statewide coalition. ESLP is organized in different models throughout different school, with the common goal of reshaping the way we learn, effectively mentor students and integrating student led sustainability academics into California higher education system. Please contact eslp@ucsc.edu for any resources and further questions.

CSSC Council Representatives

David Shugar

Major: Applied Physics
Hometown: San Bruno, CA
Graduation/Transfer: Spring 2014

About Me

I am currently a 4th year Applied Physics Major at UCSC. Throughout the past 6 years I have also worked and had various internship in the renewable energy field, with companies such as SunPower and PV Evolution Labs. Currently, I am working the UCSC Optoelectronics Lab focusing on researching the integration of solar technology onto greenhouses and the impact of plant growth under tinted luminescent solar concentrators. I am very involved with student led education and am currently the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern with the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP), which is a student led course offered for 2 and 5 units. I am also leading the Brain, Mind, Consciousness student led seminar, which is a 5-unit course addressing interdisciplinary physical sciences, cognitive science and includes topics such as ecopsychology, transpersonal psychology and meditation. In addition I am writing a book called “Healing Through Sacred Geometry”, that will be published and available within the year, focusing on bridging the study of science, spirituality and sustainability from ancient to modern perspectives.

How I got involved in CSSC

I got involved with CSSC through being an organizer with ESLP. My staff mentor, Joyce Rice recommended that I research CSSC and student created sustainability initiatives. After attending and presenting at the Fall 2012 Convergence, I wanted to become further active with the CSSC as a Council Representative. I have since been advocating the statewide implementation of ESLP courses and supporting the UC divestment of fossil fuels from the UC endowment.

The Role of Student Action in Sustainability

Student activism is very connected with sustainability efforts. This can be seen in the UC Regents creating the UC wide sustainability initiatives in 2003, due to student advocacy. Personally, I believe student can greatly add to the sustainability movement through creating student led seminars, such as ESLP. This inspires the students in college to work with peers and collaborate on interdisciplinary sustainability projects. Education programs teach the future generation of leaders tools for building a healthier world as well as gives academic credit for student participation.

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most

As stated before, I am very interested in interdisciplinary and collaborative student initiated education models. In addition, my interest in sustainability is focusing on engineering, such as renewable energy, green building and incorporating ecological design principles into modern urban cities. As an Applied Physics major, I feel that physical sciences and engineering are often overlook within the sustainability movement and that scientist and engineers should be more incorporated in environmental studies and spreading sustainability awareness.

Projects I have worked on

Such projects I have worked on is organizing the weekly guest lectures series of 12 speakers for the 130 student ESLP class in Spring 2012. This year as the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern with ESLP, I hosted the University Forum for Sustainability Education which brought together students, staff, faculty and connected various organizations focusing on furthering interdisciplinary, collaborative and experiential sustainability education models. I also applied for ESLP to fulfill a the Environmental Awareness – General Education (GE) code at UCSC, in coordination with the various organizers and faculty sponsor; which was rejected by the Committee of Education Policy due to their statement “no GE can be offered as a student led seminar”. My general goal is to future integrated sustainability education models into the current and developing academic programs. In addition, last year I help build and research a solar luminescent concentrator photovoltaic greenhouse with the UCSC Optoelectronics lab at the UCSC Arboretum.

Rebecca Wood

Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Graduation/Transfer: June 2014

About Me

Rebecca Wood is currently a third year student working towards her degree in environmental studies. Rebecca feels extremely passionate about social and environmental justice-specifically combating the corporate water grab. She acts as the campus coordinator for Take Back the Tap, which is a campaign to end the sale of single use water bottles at UCSC. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys meeting new people, hiking, backpacking, sailing, scuba diving, dancing, reading, birding, gardening and above all else, spending time with loved ones. Rebecca hopes to inspire others to connect with the land and other people, as well as find their passion and to dedicate themselves to whatever endeavors allow them to reach their long-term goals.

How I got involved in CSSC

Rebecca attended her first convergence during Fall 2011 for her involvement with Take Back the Tap. Recently, she started working with a new resource center on her campus, Common Ground Center, and she is now sitting on council to strengthen the connection between Common Ground Center and the CSSC network.

The Role of student Action in Sustainability

Student action is essential to the success of the sustainability movement because we are the ones inheriting the injustices of the world. Students have the power to make a difference if we collaborate and pull our collective intelligence together. We are young with nothing to lose, but everything to gain and an inspiration to the generations before and after us through our actions.

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most

Rebecca is interested in all aspects of the sustainability movement because everything is connected, however she is particularly called to sustainable water management and accessibility.

Projects I have worked on

Rebecca acts as campus coordinator for Take Back the Tap (TBtT), which is working to eliminate the sale and distribution of single use water bottles on the UCSC campus. In addition to the environmental benefits of the ban, TBtT focuses heavily on the human rights issue behind bottled water. She also sits on the administration board for a resource center in one of the colleges on her campus, Common Ground Center; Education for a Just and Sustainable World. Rebecca is also involved with the Program in Community Agroecology (PICA), which focuses on sustainable food systems education.

 

UC Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

Chapter Name: Education for Sustainable Living Program
Chapter Email: eslp@ucsc.edu
Chapter Website: http://eslp.enviroslug.org
Representatives: David Shugar and Rebecca Wood

Mission Statement

The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) is a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort to reshape the way we learn, effectively mentor students, and engage in projects that support the sustainable development of the University of California and Santa Cruz community. Using models of experiential learning, ESLP supports student-led sections, guest speakers and inspires participants to internalize the concept of sustainability within academia and greater society.

History/Achievements

The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) formed as a Statewide Coalition in 2003 within the California Student Sustainability Coalition, a UC-wide collaborative student effort to realize sustainability throughout the UC, CSU and CCC systems. Currently there are accredited ESLP programs in UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and UC Los Angeles.

At UCSC, ESLP student organizers worked throughout the year to plan our lecture series, train facilitators, and promote student learning projects and collaborative education models. Since 2004, ESLP has enrolled over 2000 students, hosted over 100 guest speakers and created over 50 student led sections. Every winter quarter, ESLP organizers facilitate the accredited 5-unit Winter Training Seminar which trains facilitators to develop a section syllabus and practice facilitation skills. In spring, ESLP offers the 5-unit and 2-unit sections through in conjunction with a weekly guest lecture series. In 2011-2012, ESLP had 11 organizers which received 2-units, 5-units or paid positions. The 5 unit CLEI 160 Winter Training Seminar class prepared 17 facilitators from 12 cross disciplinary majors to create 8 5-unit and 3 2-unit sections. Section topics ranged from sustainable agriculture, permaculture, water conservation, waste reduction, green building, aquaponics, environmental art and social movements towards sustainability.

In spring of 2012, 32 students enrolled in 2-unit sections and 100 students enrolled in 5-unit sections. Many of the sections learning projects engaged students throughout campus such as the The Drop you Own Drip section which sent mock water bills to students on campus and created a competition between the colleges to see who could reduce the most water. The Sustainable Living Spaces section performed an audit of the Stevenson dorm to engage students to reduce energy and resource consumption. The Zero Waste class worked on a zero waste campus move out during the end of the year. These are just some examples of how the 132 students engaged with the campus community through sustainable learning projects.
Throughout 2011-2012 ESLP, hosted 14 guest speakers which covered topics such as; mayan agroecology, food justice, ecological design, rain and grey water design, alternative transportation, renewable energy, global warming and local movements towards creating a sustainable world. ESLP also collaborated with the African American Resources Center and Brain Mind Consciousness Society to host Van Jones during winter quarter to speak about rebuilding our vision of society and learning to be culturally inclusive to form creative solutions. We also contributed to the Wiser Together event in collaboration with the World Café, which had a attendance of approximately 200 people. This event featured locally sourced food and gave a space for students to connect with community members and local resources.

Current Projects

During this year of 2012-2013, ESLP is currently training facilitators to teach their sections for Spring Quarter. There are 11 sections being proposed which covers topics such as Santa Cruz ecology, waste management, global resources, food systems, learning gardens, eco-psychology, indigeneity synthesis into sustainability and dynamic education models of socio-environmental justice. We are also planning on hosting guest speakers in Spring Quarter related to the topics of the Great Turning from the work of Joanna Macy, Activism and the Sierra Club, Environmental Justice through Art, Buckminster Fuller Ecological Design principles, Permaculture and Sustainability Consciousness, Food Systems, Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Social Activism.

Goals

A major goal of the organization is to create innovative multidisciplinary and collaborative sustainability curriculum at and become more integrated with UCSC academics. This includes further institutionalizing the ability for the spring course to count for student curricular requirements and for section facilitators to receive upper-division elective credit within their individual majors, which as of now only applied to Environmental Studies major in certain instances. Another objective in this goals is to become a qualified GE course covering the GE topic GE PE-E of Perspectives: Environmental Awareness. We currently do not fulfill this status have applied to fulfill this GE without success. We want to continue conversation with the Academic Senate and collaborate on ways student led sustainability education model can be integrated in the academic structure of UCSC. There is also the possibility of a Sustainability Technology minor being created at UCSC, and ESLP is in conversation of becoming an elective to the minor.

In addition ESLP has the goal of more thoroughly organizing online resources and supporting the creation of ESLP across the state of California.

Opportunities

At UC Santa Cruz, ESLP offers many opportunities. We have year-long organizer positions that can be filled through internship and eventually paid position. If you want to facilitate a section, you can apply to become a facilitator near the during fall quarter to enroll in the Winter Training Seminar. In spring, ESLP offers both a 5-unit and 2-unit course, which incorporates student facilitated sections and a weekly guest lecture series that any student in UCSC can enroll in.

ESLP at UC Santa Cruz also wants to support the creation of student led sustainability education program across California. If you would like any support in developing a student led course, please contact ESLP and join the statewide coalition. ESLP is organized in different models throughout different school, with the common goal of reshaping the way we learn, effectively mentor students and integrating student led sustainability academics into California higher education system. Please contact eslp@ucsc.edu for any resources and further questions.

CSSC Council Representatives

David Shugar

Major: Applied Physics
Hometown: San Bruno, CA
Graduation/Transfer: Spring 2014

About Me

I am currently a 4th year Applied Physics Major at UCSC. Throughout the past 6 years I have also worked and had various internship in the renewable energy field, with companies such as SunPower and PV Evolution Labs. Currently, I am working the UCSC Optoelectronics Lab focusing on researching the integration of solar technology onto greenhouses and the impact of plant growth under tinted luminescent solar concentrators. I am very involved with student led education and am currently the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern with the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP), which is a student led course offered for 2 and 5 units. I am also leading the Brain, Mind, Consciousness student led seminar, which is a 5-unit course addressing interdisciplinary physical sciences, cognitive science and includes topics such as ecopsychology, transpersonal psychology and meditation. In addition I am writing a book called “Healing Through Sacred Geometry”, that will be published and available within the year, focusing on bridging the study of science, spirituality and sustainability from ancient to modern perspectives.

How I got involved in CSSC

I got involved with CSSC through being an organizer with ESLP. My staff mentor, Joyce Rice recommended that I research CSSC and student created sustainability initiatives. After attending and presenting at the Fall 2012 Convergence, I wanted to become further active with the CSSC as a Council Representative. I have since been advocating the statewide implementation of ESLP courses and supporting the UC divestment of fossil fuels from the UC endowment.

The role of student action in sustainability

Student activism is very connected with sustainability efforts. This can be seen in the UC Regents creating the UC wide sustainability initiatives in 2003, due to student advocacy. Personally, I believe student can greatly add to the sustainability movement through creating student led seminars, such as ESLP. This inspires the students in college to work with peers and collaborate on interdisciplinary sustainability projects. Education programs teach the future generation of leaders tools for building a healthier world as well as gives academic credit for student participation.

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most

As stated before, I am very interested in interdisciplinary and collaborative student initiated education models. In addition, my interest in sustainability is focusing on engineering, such as renewable energy, green building and incorporating ecological design principles into modern urban cities. As an Applied Physics major, I feel that physical sciences and engineering are often overlook within the sustainability movement and that scientist and engineers should be more incorporated in environmental studies and spreading sustainability awareness.

Projects I have worked on

Such projects I have worked on is organizing the weekly guest lectures series of 12 speakers for the 130 student ESLP class in Spring 2012. This year as the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern with ESLP, I hosted the University Forum for Sustainability Education which brought together students, staff, faculty and connected various organizations focusing on furthering interdisciplinary, collaborative and experiential sustainability education models. I also applied for ESLP to fulfill a the Environmental Awareness – General Education (GE) code at UCSC, in coordination with the various organizers and faculty sponsor; which was rejected by the Committee of Education Policy due to their statement “no GE can be offered as a student led seminar”. My general goal is to future integrated sustainability education models into the current and developing academic programs. In addition, last year I help build and research a solar luminescent concentrator photovoltaic greenhouse with the UCSC Optoelectronics lab at the UCSC Arboretum.

Rebecca Wood

Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Graduation/Transfer: June 2014

About Me

Rebecca Wood is currently a third year student working towards her degree in environmental studies. Rebecca feels extremely passionate about social and environmental justice-specifically combating the corporate water grab. She acts as the campus coordinator for Take Back the Tap, which is a campaign to end the sale of single use water bottles at UCSC. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys meeting new people, hiking, backpacking, sailing, scuba diving, dancing, reading, birding, gardening and above all else, spending time with loved ones. Rebecca hopes to inspire others to connect with the land and other people, as well as find their passion and to dedicate themselves to whatever endeavors allow them to reach their long-term goals.

How I got involved in CSSC

Rebecca attended her first convergence during Fall 2011 for her involvement with Take Back the Tap. Recently, she started working with a new resource center on her campus, Common Ground Center, and she is now sitting on council to strengthen the connection between Common Ground Center and the CSSC network.

The role of student action in sustainability

Student action is essential to the success of the sustainability movement because we are the ones inheriting the injustices of the world. Students have the power to make a difference if we collaborate and pull our collective intelligence together. We are young with nothing to lose, but everything to gain and an inspiration to the generations before and after us through our actions.

The Areas of Sustainability That Interest Me Most

Rebecca is interested in all aspects of the sustainability movement because everything is connected, however she is particularly called to sustainable water management and accessibility.

Projects I have worked on

Rebecca acts as campus coordinator for Take Back the Tap (TBtT), which is working to eliminate the sale and distribution of single use water bottles on the UCSC campus. In addition to the environmental benefits of the ban, TBtT focuses heavily on the human rights issue behind bottled water. She also sits on the administration board for a resource center in one of the colleges on her campus, Common Ground Center; Education for a Just and Sustainable World. Rebecca is also involved with the Program in Community Agroecology (PICA), which focuses on sustainable food systems education.

 

UC San Diego

La Jolla, CA

Chapter Name: Student Sustainability Collective
Chapter Email: sscucsd@gmail.com UCSD
Chapter Website: http://studentsustainability.ucsd.edu/
Representatives: Sacha Manier and Andrew Uribe

Mission Statement

Our mission is to promote a comprehensive understanding of sustainability within the UCSD community while organizing and developing a network of collaborative efforts, in order to drive the implementation of sustainable practices and policies.

History/Achievements

The Student Sustainability Collective was formed in 2009 by a student referendum and the Sustainability Resource Center was formed one year later. Since then we have instituted the strongest Fair Trade policy at any University in the Nation. We have phased out water bottles in dining halls and our Housing and Dining and Hospitality will be plastic water bottle free by 2014. We have installed hydration stations throughout campus to promote reusable water bottle use. This year we have removed styrofoam from the campus, have passed a divestment resolution from fossil fuels through our Associated Students, and created a new position within A.S. called the AVP of Environmental and Social Justice Education. In 2013, we updated our mission statement and restructured our paid staff positions. We are currently in the works of rewriting our Charter.

Opportunities

We are currently hiring for next year’s collective and have internship opportunities available during the next school cycle. We have opportunities for education at our Sustainable Job Fair. Students can host a booth with information concerning different sustainability topics.

Current Projects

  • Water bottle Ban Divest from Fossil Fuels UC San Diego’s First Annual Sustainable Job Fair
  • Hosting Winona La Duke and Van Jones Panel
  • Advocacy for retrofits and alternative transportation
  • Anti Militarization Education
  • Anti Drone Panel with Amnesty International and Code Pink
  • Compost Program
  • Fair Trade audits, awareness, education, and expansion of policy
  • Reusable Dishware Rental Program
  • Education on borders and the social and environmental impacts
  • Food Justice
  • Restructuring our Charter

 

CSSC Council Representatives

Sacha Maniar

Major: International Studies
Hometown:
Saratoga, CA
Graduation/Transfer: June 2013

About Me

This is Sacha’s 4th year at UC San Diego. She has been involved in numerous on campus organizations (including the Student Sustainability Collective). Last year she went to Washington DC for UCDC and interned at the National Geographic. She also taught a middle school science class (creating the syllabus!) which included the simulation of dinosaur bone excavation. She spends her free time talking to her sister on the phone, performing songs in front of the mirror and playing games like taboo, cranium and apples to apples.

How I got Involved in CSSC

She started as at the Student Sustainability Collective as an intern in her 3rd year. She worked in civil and human rights. Today, she works as one of the Intersectionality Coordinators, a position a part of the CSSC. She attended her first Convergence in the fall.

The Role of Student Action in Sustainability

Students have the ability to push for sustainability today and in the future. When we strive for sustainability, companies, organizations, etc. will step up as well. Our passion now will translate to answers for the future. Not only this, but our people power and ability to organize can make actual change now (eg divesting from apartheid South Africa).

The Areas of Sustainability that Interest Me Most

I am focused on sustainability in terms of civil and human rights. I am most passionate about the environmental justice movement through dealing with environmental racism.

Projects I have worked on

I am working on presenting an environmental racism workshop to all of our college councils. I have also worked with the other Intersectionality Coordinators to promote our affiliates program, which helps to build our progressive community. I am also working on a Sustainable Job fair in May. The Student Sustainability Collective at UCSD is working to ban styrofoam on campus (it is almost all gone at this point), as well as installing hydration stations, banning selling plastic water bottles on the whole campus and strengthening our fair trade policy.

Andrew Uribe

Major: Psychology
Hometown: Pico Rivera, CA
Graduation/Transfer: June 2015

About Me:

I am a student at UCSD who became very politically active my first year and hope to continue as well as spread that energy. I play the trombone whenever I can and like drumming on anything I can get my hands on. I care about social sustainability and how it relates to many environmental issues as well.

How I got Involved in CSSC:

I joined the Student Sustainability Collective at UCSD which is affiliated with the CSSC. Since I joined as the position of Intersectionality Coordinator I was our groups representative. After jumping from group to group my first year I found out about the SSC and joined right up.

The Role of Student Action in Sustainability:

Students should be actively pushing for change at their campuses and communities. The fact the universities are tied into so many aspects of society empowers students to put pressure on administrations and get big changes.

The Areas of Sustainability that Interest Me Most:

I am interested in social sustainability, specifically the treatment of workers, unions, and other fair trade issues.

Projects I have worked on:

I help run the affiliate program at UCSD which connects us with a growing number of groups that all have to do with sustainability. I also help put on workshops to these groups and help plan our winter affiliate retreat. I also sit on a board that gives out TGIF grants.

UC San Diego

STUDENT GROUP: Student Sustainability Coalition
COUNCIL REPS: Stuart & Zainab
CURRENT PROJECTS:

  • Student Worker Cooperative
  • The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF)
  • Urban Farm
  • Campus Garden
  • Fair Trade Policy
  • Cycling for Commuters Workshops

WEBSITE: Student Sustainability Coalition

CONTACT: ucsandiego@sustainabilitycoalition.org

UC Los Angeles

STUDENT GROUP: E3 – Ecology, Economy, Equity
COUNCIL REPS: Kelsey Ivan & Yasar Mohebi
CURRENT PROJECTS:

  • Campus Garden
  • Fair Trade Campaign
  • The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF)
  • Garden Mentorship Program
  • UCLA Food Co-Op
  • Project Greenlight (elementary school education)

WEBSITE: E3 – Ecology, Economy, Equity

CONTACT: uclosangeles@sustainabilitycoalition.org

UC Berkeley


STUDENT GROUP: ASUC Sustainability Team (STeam)
COUNCIL REP: Meredith Jacobson
CURRENT PROJECTS:

  • End Coal Campaign
  • Fair Trade School
  • Compost
  • Reducing Plastic Consumption

WEBSITE: ASUC STeam

CONTACT: ucberkeley@sustainabilitycoalition.org