Case study for Social Networking: Amending CA Ed Code

Quierra Robey, President of the ARC Student Senate is currently working on an amendment to California Ed Code. If successful, students enrolling in CA Community Colleges will for the first time be able to donate to a Green Fund—much like they have in place at many of the UC & CSU institutions. If you have any experience in these matters, she would appreciate some sage advice.

Ms. Robey’s efforts here are inspiring to say the least, and so I’d like to talk a little bit about how this came to be. Over the summer, I attended the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference at UC Davis. This conference had us attending several days of back to back classes and field trips to see projects & practices from other campuses across our state. The last day was the student convergence where we got to hear about many of the student run projects. One that stood out for me was the UCSB Student Compost Pilot Program—click that hyperlink to read more about that amazing project.

When the last student session ended, all of the UC people in attendance were asked to go hang out together and discuss UC issues—instant room full of people. The CSU people were asked to do the same and another room filled up; private college students…same-same.

Then they called our group, “all of you California Community College people, go to that room over there.” Wenda Vanderwerf and I walked in and then one student from Cosumnes River College joined us. I know there were more of us at this conference, but the disparity was glaring.

In years past, the information we gathered from a conference like this would be brought back and shared by discussing it with others interested in such matters (preaching to the choir); handing acquired brochures to higher-ups; maybe conducting a flex activity, and other word of mouth opportunities as they came up. Because of social networking, this year would be different.

That last session at CHESC was spent with Katie Maynard, Sustainability Coordinator for Academics and Research at University of California, Santa Barbara. Here is Katie’s biography from the UCSB Sustainability page:

Katie began her involvement with Sustainability in 2003, when she became a co-founder of the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP), a student-initiated program at the local and statewide level. Katie has since become the main logistics organizer for the UC, CSU, CCC Sustainability Conference and has been engaging faculty and researchers in sustainability projects which enrich curriculum and improve research practices. She is also responsible for supporting student projects, connecting students to internship and job opportunities, directly supporting student interns, and doing general outreach for UCSB sustainability efforts.

In short, we ended up in that room with one of the organizers of the entire event. We talked about some of the ways in which we could get the word out to others, and ways we could continue to discuss the issues throughout the year. This is how the CHESC CCC Student Forum came to be. If you are interested in such matters, please consider joining that group.

Enter Quierra Robey, stage left. Ms. Robey and I started following each other on Facebook before the last summer break. She had been an early fan of the Green Office Resource website and actually had it on her radar before my initial presentation to the Buildings, Grounds & Safety Committee—which she was also at. Through the website and social networking sites, she followed along as I attended the conference, posted photographs and highlights to our Sustainability@ARC Facebook page.

I followed her posts as she spent some of her summer at the state capitol and shared information on the various pieces of legislation that impacted California Community Colleges. She spoke in support of SB1456 “Student Success Act of 2012,” SB 1052 and SB 1053 for Open Education Resource (OER) textbooks, and AB2202 “Public Postsecondary Education: Academic credit for prior military academic experience” which all passed. She also kept us updated on several other bills. It was inspiring to see one of our students working to make things happen at the state level.

My post that caught her eye was about a CHESC lunch session I attended titled Interactive Workshop: Campus Green Funds World Café: Best Practices & Lessons Learned. This session was led by:

During this session, we listened as they described the ways their campuses were able to institute a mandatory/optional fee at the time of enrollment. One of them had a $10 mandatory per year with a student population of 30,000. That’s $300,000 annually that they were able to use to pull off these types of projects:

  • Purchase recycle bins for their campus
  • Sponsor guest speakers
  • Pay student internships
  • Create / maintain student gardens
  • LEED certifications for buildings on campus
  • Installation of wind turbines and/or solar panels on campus
  • Energy efficiency retrofits
  • Creation of campus energy “dashboard” energy management system
  • Award mini grants for student / staff green projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Weatherization & energy audit workshops.
  • Granting awards to sustainability champions
  • Installation of composting facilities
  • Feasibility study for sustainability improvements

 

If something like this were in place at our institution as a $1 opt-out check box on our enrollment application, we would have the possibility of seeing $5,000-$10,000-$15,000 in the Fall & Spring semesters for similar projects at ARC!

According to a 2010 presentation from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) titled Student Green Fee Management and Project Implementation, more than 70 colleges and universities have a dedicated student fee for sustainability. Take a look at this AASHE webpage titled Dedicated Student Fees for Sustainability where they chronicle over 40 different campuses with fee amounts, project goals, percentage points on the support of each vote, links to the respective documentation and a short paragraph about each of them.

Ms. Robey read my post about establishing a Green Fund on the ARC Sustainability Facebook page and then scheduled an appointment with me to find out more information. She then posted Resolution F 12 – 01: Amend California Education Code for Sustainability Fee to the freshly implemented CHESC: CCC Student Forum where I saw it for the first time—just moments after she posted it. She was immediately given advice and kudos for her effort as well as this webpage link:

  • Green Fund Resources
    The name The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) was first coined by UC Santa Barbara in 2006. Check out TGIF programs at other UC’s…

This webpage features links to other UC/CSU TGIF sites, their respective TGIF grant programs, presentations/research papers as well as many other TGIF resources! Social networking gave her the tools to see a project, act on it and get instant feedback which helped her put together a second draft much quicker while creating interest from people that otherwise wouldn’t have even known about her efforts. If you’ve followed this tale up to this point, social networking has also brought that to YOU!

Social networking sites encourage people to participate, empower those participating to share, and spread the word to an unprecedented number of people. Consider our own American River College Facebook page with 5,139 LIKES. That’s 5,139 people that have expressed an interest in EVERYTHING we want to say! If you want to get more visibility on your project in as transparent a way as possible, consider moving it out of the silo and into the public eye. If you come across a project that you want more people to know about, post it! Also, be sure to click that LIKE or SHARE button on other posts you support as that’s a way to get more people to see them. You never know when a student like Quierra Robey is watching and willing to make it happen!

I know there are more, and please feel free to add your favorites in the comments below; but, here are some of ARC’s Facebook pages to LIKE/SHARE/support: