Sustainability Efforts Require Greater Exposure

Dear Editor,

The Nov. 23 article “Grass with No Roots” brought to light several issues with sustainability efforts on campus. The author’s apparent confusion concerning those efforts, however, highlights an even more pressing matter: the lack of communication and collaboration regarding sustainable endeavors.

When a reporter for the Guardian does not even have enough information to write an informed article about sustainability on campus, the community of students, staff and faculty dedicated to a sustainable campus clearly need to outreach more effectively to the rest of the UCSD population. The Sustainability Resource Center (SRC) is that outreach.

The Sustainability Resource Center is not a “special interest club.” It is a resource center that is dedicated to environmental and social issues pertinent to the campus community. Just as the Cross-Cultural Center, LGBT Resource Center and Women’s Center each inhabits its own physical space to maximize outreach and effectiveness, so too does the SRC.

Moreover, none of the funding for the renovations of the physical space came from the $2.34 quarterly student fee passed in the last referendum. The quarterly fee supports sustainability programming, provides resources to students and sustainability-oriented campus organizations and provides innovative student projects with grant money through the Green Initiative Fund.

We agree that UCSD’s shuttle system is a critical part of sustainability. Transportation Services currently needs around $3 million to maintain current services.

We regret that the SRC lacks the capacity to make a significant impact on this deficit financially, but we are working to advance alternative transportation in other ways.

For example, the SRC supports Biofuels Action and Awareness Network, a student-led organization that creates fuel from waste vegetable oil and researches efficacy of biofuels in campus shuttles. The SRC budget comes from students and goes directly back to the UCSD community through student-led sustainability efforts.

We also agree that because the UCSD undergraduate student body has voted to allot a significant budget to sustainability on campus, a permanent position in the A.S. Council needs to be created to represent the students’ call for a sustainable campus and to ensure that allocated funds are spent effectively. We have been working with the A.S. Council to create an AVP of Sustainability that will help oversee these efforts.

As students working within UCSD’s sustainability community, it is often hard for us to step back and understand how the rest of the school perceives sustainability efforts on campus.

Articles like this help us to re-evaluate both the work we do and the way we relate to the student body. We appreciate both the publicity and the accountability that the Guardian provides and hope to foster this relationship for the duration of the SRC.

We hope that soon students will understand that if we are the grass, they are the roots.

— Elizabeth Elman

Director, Student

Sustainability Collective

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