In 1964 UC Berkeley was flooded with pools of students who stood on police cars surrounding Sproul Hall. These activists turned their heads away from authority and instead gazed up at the student leaders who shouted passionate prose as they exercised exactly what they were trying to protect – their freedom of speech. At UC Santa Cruz, students chose to sit. In doing so they led a powerful demonstration of civil disobedience against President Bush’s war. And at our very own UCSB, Gauchos denied themselves food for weeks as they begged for ethnic studies classes that would allow students to explore culture in the classroom. UC students have a historical talent for making major changes via student activism. Now, as they combine their talents, history is in the making with a campaign geared towards incredible environmental change that will culminate with this weekend’s CSSC Convergence.
The CSSC – California Student Sustainability Coalition – is a completely student-organized campaign that combines the powers of activists from all the UCs in an effort to make the UC system a national leader in environmental change. The main components of the CSSC are geared toward three areas: buildings, transportation and education. Although the areas may sound bland as the Brady Bunch, what they actually entail is as entertaining as discovering that the Mr. Brady went on to get a sex change, and Marsha and Mrs. Brady both shared very non-platonic relationships with Greg. The CSSC is very much the overachieving daughter of its successful mother – the UC Go Solar! campaign, which just this summer resulted in new green building mandates for all new UC buildings. The CSSC is now working to expand similar green building requirements to Cal State campuses and various local arenas.
The transportation component of this campaign combines revolutionary science and common sense to encourage the University’s local transportation organizations to utilize fuel-efficient transportation systems. This portion includes the evolution of a “car-sharing” program, which would grant students access to several hybrid cars stationed around campus. Students would be able to borrow these vehicles for any use, so long as they remain in California. The program would discourage students from bringing unnecessary cars to school while encouraging the use of environmentally friendly vehicles. With their whereabouts tracked down with Global Positioning Systems, the drivers are only held financially accountable to the amount of gas they use – car insurance is covered by the car sharing company. The CSSC also plans to implement educational programs on campus that teach students about sustainable living that will keep their knowledge up to speed with the new sciences.
At this point, the program may sound too good to be true, and many may be skeptical about this campaign’s potential. But for weeks students UC-wide have contacted each other via long conference calls, extensive e-mails and late-night, state-wide meetings as they run on nothing but organic coffee to fuel them. Since summer, they’ve lobbied the UC Office of the President and will soon approach the UC Regents. This week, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Lobero Room at Francisco Torres, California students will kickoff a weekend-long conference to combine their powers to fine-tune the campaign. After all, one of California’s most powerful institutions relies upon students, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t call the shots.
So don’t let Kermit the Frog’s “It’s not easy being green” slogan scare you away from becoming a part of this movement yourself. The CSSC doesn’t ask that you become a vegan, it doesn’t ask for you to protest for trees, it simply asks for you to act, to make your passion mobile just like many strong UC students before us have done so well in the past.
Ginger Gonzaga is writing on behalf of the UCSB Environmental Affairs Board.