USG hopes to boost sustainability efforts
Posted November 23, 2009 at 11:48 pm in News
A new resolution from the Undergraduate Student Government aims to increase the size of USC‚Äôs Sustainability Office and allocate more resources to sustainable efforts on campus.
The resolution, up for a vote at USG‚Äôs Senate today, seeks to expand the scope of environmentally friendly efforts at USC, according to John Baldo, USG‚Äôs director of university affairs.
‚ÄúThe resolution expresses the student body‚Äôs support for expanding USC‚Äôs Sustainability Program and asks the university to allocate more resources,‚ÄĚ Baldo said.
According to USG President Holden Slusher, who presented the details of the resolution to the Board of Trustees earlier this month, the resolution arose from a need to make sustainability a more prominent and pressing issue on campus.
‚ÄúWe feel that it‚Äôs time that we had a visible office and made [sustainability] part of campus culture,‚ÄĚ Slusher said.
USC is already implementing a number of
environment-friendly measures, including holding the Sustainability Steering Committee, a forum for students and administrators to discuss sustainability efforts.
But, the resolution claims, attendance at the committee has been lacking, and it also adds that on-campus environmentally friendly organizations do not have sufficient meeting space and that USC‚Äôs sustainability grade report has remain unchanged for the past three years.
‚ÄúWhile the creation of the Steering Committee and establishing our [sustainability] program was a huge first step … it‚Äôs important that USC expand on that progress and continue to develop its program,‚ÄĚ Baldo said.
He added that the resolution also attempts to address the lack of staffing at the Sustainability Office, which currently has just one full-time employee.
‚ÄúThe office is being flooded with ideas for projects and requests to be involved,‚ÄĚ Baldo said. ‚ÄúThe program does not have the capacity to coordinate all of these projects and capitalize on all the opportunities.‚ÄĚ
As a result, the resolution recommends the inclusion of more full-time staff for the Office of Sustainability, and demands more office space to address student interest in improving USC‚Äôs environment.
‚ÄúWe would like to see the staff of the sustainability program expanded to include people who can coordinate student projects on a full-time basis,‚ÄĚ Baldo said. ‚ÄúWe have also proposed the idea of creating a fund, which would allow students to submit project proposals to improve campus sustainability and receive funding if selected.‚ÄĚ
Baldo acknowledged that USC has made substantial efforts in making university operations more sustainable, through composting leftover food in the dining halls, providing a transportation fleet with diverse fuel sources, using hybrid vehicles and planning a LEED-certified building.
‚ÄúBut we‚Äôre lacking a large community element where students can become involved through their daily
lifestyle, on-campus activities and research through their classes,‚ÄĚ Baldo said.
USG representatives have been in talks with the administrators to add to the university‚Äôs sustainability efforts, including a possible community garden, a refillable mug program for beverages and course credit for sustainability research in some classes.
Matthew Oden, USC‚Äôs sustainability program manager, said he appreciates USG‚Äôs effort to expand the program.
‚ÄúThe interactions our office has had with USG leaders in other contexts and projects has shown them the value of the Office of Sustainability and they have identified that we are currently under-capitalized and under-staffed,‚ÄĚ Oden said.
Although the resolution, if passed, doesn‚Äôt require the administration to implement its recommendations, it displays a level of student interest in the success of the program.
‚ÄúIt clearly shows that sustainability is a critical and important issue to the student body and articulates that they want to see the university put more energy and resources into this area,‚ÄĚ Oden said.
Leaders of campus sustainability organizations also feel the passage of the resolution will expand their efforts at USC.
‚ÄúIt would be a major step saying that USC is dedicated to becoming a sustainable campus,‚ÄĚ said Yvette Ferrer, the chair of the California Public Interest Research Group at USC. ‚ÄúHaving an office would allow student groups to come together and offer legitimacy to proposals made to USC administration for how to green our campus.‚ÄĚ
Some students said they feel increasing the scope of the office is a step in the right direction for USC.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a good idea … USC definitely is lacking in sustainability practices and it needs to be addressed,‚ÄĚ said Bri Baker, a junior majoring in communication and human development and aging. ‚ÄúIf this office plans on making sustainability more well-known and practiced, and is done well … I support it.‚ÄĚ
To pass, the resolution will need a simple majority from Senators at USG‚Äôs Senate meeting today.