We write in response to the letter you published on Nov. 20 from Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, Milena Castillo-Grynberg, Olivia Pearson, Claire Mauss, Catherine Atkinson (who wrote as representatives from Environmental Core, Environmental Student Assembly and Undergraduate Student Government). We are members of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Sustainability, and we want to express our support for the ideas and feelings expressed in the students’ letter. We also want to express our thanks to these students and to the organizations they represent for taking the lead in calling on the University to step up to our responsibilities as an institution.
The challenges posed by climate change and other environmental disruptions are already massive and are destined to grow in magnitude and intensity over the coming years. However, as portrayed so eloquently in the student letter, the sad truth is that USC has only made tiny steps in responding to this challenge. We have yet to respond in a way that reflects our capability and our responsibility. We have many facultymembers, students and staff who are doing their best to help the University live up to our aspirations and obligations, but without leadership from the top — the Board and the President — we cannot get far. USC aspires to be one of the world’s leading universities, and this requires that we take a leadership role in the environmental arena.
We therefore join the call from these students in urging the Chairman and President to articulate an ambitious longer-term strategy and an aggressive timeline for reaching the overarching goals of net zero water, net zero waste, net zero carbon, sustainability education and research as well as full transparency in developing a plan for reaching these goals and in assessing our progress toward them.
Academic Senate Committee on Sustainability