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Striving for sustainability

By Jennifer Case

April 21, 2004 9:00 p.m.

The organization has grown from 12 members to over 500 in less
than one year, and has played a leading role in drafting a policy
calling for “green” buildings and a reduction in energy
consumption on all UC campuses.

The California Student Sustainability Coalition, a student-run
organization aimed at implementing environmentally sound practices
in the UC system, has grown to include a chapter at UCLA this

The coalition aims to empower students throughout the state to
focus on creating a more sustainable UC system, while recognizing
the needs of each university as well as the needs of humanity.

The coalition, along with other campus groups, works on behalf
of the environment and recognize the importance of Earth Day

“Some environmentalists think they can save the
environment without thinking of humanity’s place in the big
picture. The California Student Sustainability Coalition sees
humanity as part of the big picture, and we recognize that
everything is interconnected and interdependent. Doing harm to the
planet also does harm to the people,” said Michael Cox,
chairman of UCLA’s coalition branch.

Last July, the coalition helped pass a multi-million-dollar
green building and renewable energy initiative that focuses on
making the UC campuses sustainable, instead of continuing to
deplete resources.

Wednesday, students from the group and Julian Keniry, director
of the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program
met with UC Vice-President Joe Mullinix to discuss the
implementation of the initiative.

To bring the idea of sustainability into the classroom,
UCLA’s coalition members designed a lecture series, currently
being offered at five UC campuses, called the Education for
Sustainable Living Program. The lecture series brings in different
guest lecturers each week, who discuss sustainability from their
different perspectives, including ecology, politics and

The lecture series was initiated by Cox, who also started the
UCLA chapter of the sustainability coalition. The course,
Environment 185, is a public lecture series in which students can
enroll and receive two units, or just attend.

The lectures are offered at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa
Cruz, UC Davis and UC Berkeley. The series at UCLA and Berkeley are
identical, with the same speakers, and the other campuses have
similar lecture topics from different speakers.

Hillary Lehr, a second-year conservation and resource studies
student at Berkeley, as well as a member of the sustainability
coalition, believes the lectures bring new ideas about activism
into the classroom.

“We’re trying to not only bring academics into
activism through this course, but also bringing activism into
academics,” Lehr said.

In addition to the lecture program, UC Berkeley’s branch
of the coalition created a course centered on student-initiated
projects related to sustainability.

“Students learn about sustainability, and then they try to
create a project that brings their ideas into action. They feel
very connected to the issues surrounding sustainability, and
it’s very rewarding for them to see their ideas
enacted,” Lehr added.

Students involved in UCLA’s coalition believe the program
is off to a good start, but has much room to grow.

“It’s a great program because it looks toward the
future. The lecture series is a great part of the program because
people need to be more educated on sustainability. I’m
excited to see the program develop,” said Matthew Wood, a
first-year undeclared student.

The California Student Sustainability Coalition @ UCLA meets on
the Kerckhoff Patio at 6 p.m. on Mondays, and the Education for
Sustainable Living Program is from 9-11 a.m. on Thursdays in
Kerckhoff Grand Salon.

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Jennifer Case
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