In an effort to decrease the use of disposable coffee cups, UC Berkeley plans to buy 5,000 plastic mugs for its students.

The university gave nearly $10,000 to the Associated Students of the University of California-sponsored UC Berkeley Reusable Mug Program, which was finalized last weekend at the third annual UC Berkeley Recycling Summit.

“We’re trying to instill a culture of recycling and reducing waste on campus,” ASUC President Jesse Gabriel said. “UC Merced is calling itself the environmentally friendly campus, but I think Berkeley can be not only the free speech campus but also the environmentally friendly campus.”

Backers of the program estimate it will save between 60,000 and 120,000 paper and plastic cups each year. The mugs are made from 40 percent recycled plastic and 60 percent nonrecycled plastic.

“Paper cup use is one of the greatest wastes we have on campus, so I hope these are mugs that people actually use during their time at Cal and beyond,” Graduate Student Assembly President Jessica Quindel said.

ASUC officials want on-campus restaurants and cafes close to campus to offer a discount for students who use the mug instead of a paper cup. Several area coffee shops already offer a 10-cent discount for patrons who bring their own mugs.

Gabriel said that a few thousand mugs will be distributed during ASUC elections this spring. The election system will assure mugs are only distributed to students because each voter must have a valid student identification card to vote and receive a mug.

Congressman Donates Cuban Painting to UCSC
UC News Wire

U.S. Representative Sam Farr, D- Salinas, Santa Cruz, donated a painting from renowned Cuban artist Aguedo Alonso to the UC Santa Cruz Special Collection in a ceremony last week.

The painting was originally given to Farr as a personal gift by Cuban President Fidel Castro. Farr had traveled to Cuba with a delegation of Californians to work toward improving relations with the country.

“We were invited to Sunday night dinner with Castro,” Farr said. “After showing me his office in the presidential palace, we walked into the foyer and we saw four paintings by famous artists. He told me that last week, President Vicente Fox of Mexico had come to Cuba and Fox chose a painting to take home with him. He then asked, ‘Would you like one?'”

Congressional rules prevent Farr from accepting gifts, but when the Cuban president asked if he could take the painting to give to a museum or university, Farr said he quickly agreed.

Alonso has been described as “one of the indispensables of contemporary Cuban painting” by historian Eusebio Leal. He is regarded as one of the leading proponents of the school of landscape painting that was developed in his native province of Pinar del Rio.

“It’s a great honor to have the painting at UCSC,” Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood said. “It’s a wonderful new addition to Special Collections.”

UC Studies Transition to College of First-Year Students
UC News Wire

The University of California is conducting an in-depth study of first-year college students to learn more about the challenges and rewards that accompany their transition from high school to university life.

“The University has put a lot of energy into getting more students prepared for college. We want to invest not just in getting students here but in making sure they get through,” said project director Margarita Azmitia, a professor of psychology at UC Santa Cruz.

Azmitia is conducting the nine-month study of about 200 first-year students.

Participating students fill out a questionnaire and are interviewed individually each quarter in an effort to assess whether and how students draw on their family, friends and the university for emotional support and academic help during their first year of college. The study began last fall and results will be published as a policy brief due Oct. 1.

“We try to look at everything – their self-esteem and feelings of competence, how engaged they are with the university, how their classes are going, whether they have made friends and are participating in extracurricular activities, and if they’re having roommate problems,” said Azmitia.

Azmitia received $50,000 in funding from the UC All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity, which uses the research expertise of the University to identify strategies that will increase college preparation, access, and retention. She also received $10,000 from UCSC’s Academic Senate Committee on Research, and $6,000 from the Social Sciences Division.

“How the transition to the first year of college goes influences the students’ pathway through college,” Azmitia said. “It’s important for the University to know as much as possible about that first year.”

– Compiled by Daniel Haier