Students advocate for solar panel installation

Students marched on Trousdale Parkway Wednesday afternoon to advocate for the installation of solar panels on USC roofs as part of a protest organized by the USC Go Solar Campaign, a branch of the Environmental Core.

Connor Mitchell, a freshman majoring in business administration, said the University has a unique opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint of because of Los Angeles’s commonly sunny weather.

“USC should adopt solar because we have days like this all year long, and there is this energy out there that can power our planet,” Mitchell said.

The protest began at the Annenberg Amphitheater as dozens of students convened to distribute posters emblazoned with slogans like “USC is Bright, Let’s Use the Light” and “Why Aren’t We Using Our Roofs.” Environmental Core co-directors Ethan Bialick and Zach Manta gave brief speeches detailing the group’s efforts to bring solar panels to the University, as well as the goals of the protest.

“Today we’re coming here with a proposal that literally says this company will pay USC to put solar on these roofs,” Bialick said. “We’re bringing this to them, and we’re going to protest that they need to do this now [and] they need to make a commitment now.”

Demonstrators then marched down Trousdale Parkway, before circling in front of Tommy Trojan. Students, led by Manta, chanted slogans such as “This is the hour for solar power” and “Solar makes sense.” Afterward, students shared their own reasons for why they thought solar power was a top priority for USC.

“I support USC switching to solar because, as a world-class University at a time when renewable is readily available, there is no reason why we should be relying on dirty fossil fuels,” said Olivia Pearson, a freshman majoring in environmental engineering.

After the protest, the Environmental Core presented administration officials with a proposal from the energy company SolarCity to lease USC’s unused rooftops to install solar panels owned and maintained by the company. The University will only need to host the panels and collect the lease payments from Solar City, which will alleviate the financial burden of the solar panels.

“We’ve repeatedly been told by administrators that they’re not willing to put the money down and invest in solar systems because the payback period is too long for their high-risk, high-reward financial strategies,” Manta said. “Although solar does financially make sense, we want to be very clear that this is not primarily a financial decision.”

Bialick hopes that the protest will show the University’s administration that installing solar panels is both socially responsible and financially feasible.

“Ideally, they would recognize that they have a sustainability plan that says they’ll procure renewable energy when economic, and this [proposal] literally pays them to get renewable energy,” Bialick said. “If they refuse this, they’re essentially breaking from what they said.”