Sudents from a variety of environmentally-conscious groups on campus held their first Sustainability Assembly meeting on April 5 to discuss their concerns about environmental issues impacting student life on campus.
The meeting, led by HSS Rep. Haile Fenske, focused on setting goals for the future of the assembly. The agenda, which will be brought to the Board of Directors in the coming year, includes sustainability reform such as banning the sale of plastic water bottles on campus, requiring campus food vendors to donate any leftover prepared food and reopening the Bike Barn which was closed last semester.
“This assembly is a platform for students and student organizations … to talk about sustainability initiatives,” said Jack Steinmann, a member of the Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students (ECO Students). “This is something we care about and need to talk about now.”
Within the list of demands discussed, the most pressing item on the agenda was the implementation of a permanent food distribution site on campus. This concern comes in response to a meeting that was canceled due to a planned rally the ECO Students had organized at the Student Life and Event Center (the Annex) on March 29, where the Department of Student Affairs’ meeting planned to be held.
The protest led the ECO Students to occupy the waiting room of LuoLuo Hong, vice president of the Department of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, demanding a meeting to address the issue.
“I will commit to providing communication between the students and administration regarding the urgency and location of the food pantry,” Hong said when addressing the students. “We are going to push to get something completed by Fall 2018 and we will explore all available options where food deliveries can take place.”
ECO Students were working closely with the administration last semester –– specifically David Rourke, director of Residential Life and Aimee Williams from Health Promotion and Wellness –– in order to implement a permanent food distribution center in the former Village Center. Instead, the space is now the new office for Health and Wellness Promotions and the lobby for residential housing.
“We never wanted it to be solely just a space for a food pantry but to be included in collaboration with these other functions of that space itself because it’s so large,” said ECO Student Vice President Miriam Palma-Trujillo.
Instead of working toward creating a permanent food distribution center, the SF State administration has allocated their funds to a variety of different approaches. A website was created to inform students and faculty of the issues of food insecurity on campus as well as expanding the CalFresh program.
A food swipe donation program was also implemented where students within residential housing can donate extra meal swipes. While these programs benefit students on campus, they do not solve the greater concerns of food insecurity at SF State as well as on a CSU wide level.
“The next steps need to be students and administration working together… to combat the issue of basic needs,” said Brandon Kline, the associate director of environmental programs.