A great deal of individuals would assume that the title of environmentalist entails a hummus-eating individual who refuses to wear shoes, but is more than willing to jump into a turtle costume when the times demand. In part, such an assumption is correct; but there is much more to the environmentalists of the Environmental Affairs Board than their tree hugging may tell. This year, as EAB’s legislative council liaison, I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of individuals who all possess the gifts of character, energy and genuine concern for the well-being of our earth when it’s needed the most. The passion of this year’s EAB members has primarily been directed toward a UC-wide campaign that has the potential to change the UC colors of blue and gold to green. The goal of the UC Go Solar Campaign, as it is titled, is to bring clean energy and green buildings to the University of California.
The first step of this campaign required that every UC present its legislative body with a resolution requesting that the construction of any new UC buildings, including all of the buildings of the future UC Merced, meet silver LEED standards. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards are standards for buildings that range from bronze to platinum – the ranking of UCSB’s Bren building. These buildings are more environment friendly and cost no more than your average UC building. The resolution also requests that any energy used in the future will be at least 50 percent renewable. This year the resolution for UCSB passed unanimously at the first legislative council meeting, and, as of early November, every other UC passed this resolution as well. Although the UC’s collective resolve to reduce its contributions to the environment’s problems may have been a milestone, the final decision will be up to the all-mighty UC Regents when they vote in January, which hopefully will transform these resolutions into a reality. This vote by the regents was initially scheduled for Nov. 13, 2002. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the Student Regent, a liaison from UC Berkeley who represents all UC students amongst the regents, forgot to put the vote on the agenda. Whether the student regent is secretly working for Bush, or is just as absentminded as he is, is yet to be determined; nevertheless, as logistics go, the vote has now been postponed. This postponement, however, may have been a blessing in disguise by granting more time for all students to get involved.
Every Tuesday night in Girvets 2112 at 7:00, the magnetic personalities of EAB co-chairs Ryan Kivlen and Will Nicholls, and the rest of their environmentalist posse, attract a group of students that is larger than any other A.S. committee. Aside from treating yourself to these informative and enthralling meetings, you can visit the UC Go Solar website at www.ucgosolar.com in order to find out how to get more involved in this monumental campaign or other EAB activities – from teaching environmental education at Isla Vista Elementary to serving at the Salvation Army. The University of California and our environment need you more than ever. So whether shoeless or not, prove to Captain Planet that you’re smarter than the average Gaucho and add that wind, fire, heart and water; because, after all, with your powers combined, you may be able to save the planet… or at least “Go Solar.”
Ginger Gonzaga is an A.S. legislative council liaison to the Environmental Affairs Board.