Author: Daniel Terner
Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) Senate approved a constitutional amendment March 16 to establish a vice president of sustainability position, passing the measure by a 9-0 vote with one abstention.
The duties of the new position include meeting regularly with Occidental’s sustainability coordinator, initiating contact with other sustainability-oriented organizations on campus and acting as a liaison between Sustainability Fund and Senate.
“We wanted more fluidity in between Senate and Sustainability Fund,” Vice President of Internal Affairs Rachel Young (junior) said. “Because right now there is really not much interaction between the two different entities, which seemed strange to me.”
Young and Sen. Mallory Leeper (sophomore) worked closely together over the past few months to bring the idea to life, taking advantage of widespread support for sustainability in Senate.
“We were thinking about how this year we were lucky enough to have several of us on Senate who are very interested in sustainability,” Young said. “We thought it was necessary that there be a permanent voice on the senate around sustainability.”
The fund supports environmentally-focused organizations on campus. It supplied both equipment and money to Bike Share in addition to funding the Occidental Food, Energy and Sustainability Team (FEAST), which was responsible for the recent additions of native plant and butterfly gardens around campus. Sustainability Fund also pays for the maintenance of the school’s solar panels on Mount Fiji.
But according to Sustainability Fund Vice President of Julia Kingsley (senior), the fund remains relatively unknown and isolated from the student body, despite being a part of ASOC. The vice president position is aimed to create more visibility and interaction between students and Sustainability Fund.
“Senators were starting to come to Sustainability Fund meetings,” Kingsley said. “We sort of asked ourselves, why don’t we work together more? Departments, clubs and individuals have come to us asking for funding, but I think that we’re not very visible to the student body, and we know that.”
Candidates will need to have spent two semesters on Sustainability Fund to ensure they are appropriately qualified for the position. Kingsley believes this new position may reinvigorate the fund and make students more aware of the resources it offers.
“We have so many resources, a lot of passion on campus, and a lot of organizations on campus that focus on sustainability, but it feels like everyone’s kind of revving their engines,” Kingsley said. “No one knows that right now we have over $60,000 in our bank account that the student body can use.”
The constitutional amendment now heads to a campus-wide vote. For the measure to pass, 20 percent of the student body must participate in the vote, with two-thirds being in favor.
Senate voted Monday to pair the vote on the vice president of sustainability position with next week’s vote on the Diversity and Equity Board Initiative, in order to garner the interest of as many students as possible. Voting will be open to students March 30.
“Our plan right now is to do a joint vote because, if it’s not elections, it does take a lot to get students just to vote on a constitutional amendment,” Young said.
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