Climate mobilization encourages sustainability among students

In efforts to create a more sustainable campus, solar panels were added to student dormitory The K and the Keck Center for Science and Engineering following its construction. Photo by Kali Hoffman, photo editor

This year has sparked conversations on reducing Chapman’s carbon footprint with activists like Greta Thunberg and Leonardo Di Caprio speaking out on climate change – and they’re not the only ones. Last year, discussion regarding climate change erupted due to reports that humankind has 12 years to turn things around. Since then, events such as the Global Climate Strike, the largest climate mobilization in history, have inspired people to change that fact. Other plans to instill environment policies, like The Green New Deal led by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), promote reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“People hear about (these issues) but don’t care enough to read into it,” said Allison Dao, a junior biology major. “It’s hard to get people to really care because they don’t see the effects of it; there’s no immediate effect that you can see.”

Chapman has taken steps to create a more environmentally-friendly campus by preserving historic buildings to reduce raw resource consumption, offering rideshare programs such as carpools and discounting public transit. The university also offers a bike voucher program, participates in Weigh the Waste to teach students about post-consumer consumption and has installed water filling stations and Bigbelly solar trash and recycling bins throughout campus. However, some students don’t think Chapman is doing enough to be sustainable.

“We are still lacking in that value. I don’t think that Chapman values sustainability enough,” said Julia Curry, the president of student club Mission Environment.

“There weren’t any solar panels on the new Keck building or even the K (apartments) and there’s just no reason not to do those things. In order to make change on our campus, the student body has to show Chapman administration that they care and want to see change,” Anna Bergland, the co-president of Net Zero Chapman, told The Panther.

“The administration doesn’t put sustainability on high priority. We’re in a huge climate crisis right now and it’s kind of going over everyone’s head,” said the senior environmental policy major. “Everyone is turning their left cheek to it, especially administration.”

Despite Chapman’s efforts towards sustainability, Curry would like to see more educational efforts from administration so students can learn different approaches to protecting our environment.

“I’m also hoping we can have more recycling outreach programs,” said the senior documentary film major. “People don’t really know how to properly recycle and we can only do so much to have students care, but more tabling and more student-wide events; just little things that can make a big difference.”

In efforts to raise awareness around the issue, Mission Environment welcomed candidate for Orange city council Betty Valencia as a guest speaker at one of their meetings.

“A big thing she did for us was to remind everyone that even though a lot of us are just here for a few years for college, we are all still members of this community and we have a voice,” said Anish Bajaj, the vice president of Mission Environment.

He added that Chapman is moving in the right direction in terms of sustainability with student organizations on campus such as Net Zero Chapman, which strives to provide a 100 percent renewable energy-powered campus, as well as his own student club whose goal is to educate students on methods to obtaining a sustainable lifestyle.

“Get yourself a reusable water bottle or when you’re packing yourself a lunch; make sure that you have a reusable bag. When you go to the grocery store, take your bags,” Bajaj said. “Those are the smallest things, but just by doing it a few times, you’re helping a cause. If you’re not helping a cause, you’re hurting it.”