Reporting by Alyce Thornhill, Talk Director
My name is Alyce, I am the Talk Director at KZSC, which is our campus radio station. My first question is just a preliminary introduction. So if you all want to go around and say your name, your pronouns, and then sort of what is your position or your specific involvement with this organization and event?
Yeah, I can start really quick. My name is Gwen Parden, my pronouns are she/her. And I am a third year Anthropology student at UCSC. And I am part of the steering committee for the UCSC Climate Coalition.
Hi, my name is Maya Caminada. I am an Anthropology student, a Sustainability Studies student and a Spanish student. I am on the steering committee of the UCSC Climate Coalition. I’m also an intern at the People of Color Sustainability Collective. And my pronouns are she/her.
Hi, my name is Max Rogozienski. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m on the UCSC Steering Committee of the Climate Coalition.
Great, thank you. For our listeners, would one of you mind briefly describing what the Climate Coalition is, when it was founded, sort of what the organization looks like today.
I can at least start us off. So the UCSC Climate Coalition was founded, I believe, this last November. And so it’s a very new organization. And the reason we kind of started it up is because there hasn’t been a lot of activism visually on campus, especially since COVID. It seems as though it’s just kind of quieted down with climate activism and activism in general at UCSC. And so we wanted to create this organization that can one kind of hype up the climate activism and activism in general on campus, like I said before, but also create a bridge between the different organizations on campus that are already in existence, that may not know about each other. So our hope is that the Climate Coalition can kind of create relationships with lots of different orgs on campus. And we do have two main demands, I can pass it on to whoever wants to talk about those really quick too.
Yeah, I can jump in. So yeah, we created it to be able to connect student orgs not to reinvent the wheel, people are doing incredible work on our campus already. And it’s just, it’s frustrating and disappointing to see that they don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve. And so partly for that, and then also for accountability to the school. I think the school has made promises over the years that students don’t see that they haven’t kept. And so we want to really hold the school accountable. To have those initiatives and the ones that we are proposing that they change is electrification. So electrifying our campus and then getting off of our cogeneration plant that uses fracked, methane, and then education. So we’re all going to be graduating in however many years from this school. And we want students to be prepared for their future and whatever field they’re going into. And that means learning about the climate crisis. And as of right now, we’re not learning about that and we’re especially not there learning about it from the view of Indigenous [people] and People of Color, and so on people on the frontlines, so that’s also really important.
“I think the school has made promises over the years that students don’t see that they haven’t kept.”
Thank you. Max, did you want to add on to that as well?
Yeah. I think Gwen and Maya did an awesome job. But in like one sentence, I would say the UCSC Climate Coalition would be a coalition of students and faculty trying to push our two demands, which would be education and electrification of UCSC and all the UCs.
Thank you so much. I was hoping to talk a little bit about the policy platform. Is that alright with y’all? So it’s a long document, 74 pages, I was looking through a bunch of the things that you talked about, including green energy, transportation, housing, construction, land use food waste, divestment, education, and labor, those seem to be the main components of the policy. I was wondering if anyone wants to offer a summary of that for our listeners?
We really don’t leave anything out, do we? Yeah, I think it is a long document. But it’s a long document because we recognize that the climate crisis affects all avenues of people’s lives. And I think it’s hard to it’s a symptom of the, of the cause of the way we’ve been living, and so have this overconsumption. And so we want to not only change how our school does things, but be an example of how we can change how we all do things as as a society as a community. So that involves food waste, and housing, especially, we have such a big housing crisis in Santa Cruz. And that really aids to our climate crisis problem. And so I don’t know if anyone else wants to go in depth into this policy. But I can hand it off.
Yeah, I think you said it perfectly. The reason it’s such a long document is just because there’s a lot of problems and a lot of issues that need to be first made aware of, and then second, we need to start creating solutions for them. Yeah, our hope at this Earth Day Rally, is to present this long policy platform to the chancellor, and to kind of foster a conversation with her that can hopefully go on for quite some time. And kind of get that going. So yeah, that’s all I want to add.
Yeah, I would totally agree with Gwen. I would say we’re trying to show the chancellor the policy platform and give her kind of the option to implement it. Yeah, because there’s so many different things that could be done.
I think it’s interesting that your coalition highlights labor and housing, because I feel like those are two issues that there’s been so much activism around, and kind of infamously the chancellor hasn’t responded to. So I was wondering, you know, given the COLAs strikes, and how that at its core was a movement towards labor justice and housing justice, how does climate tie in directly to that?
I think the way I see it is that our cogeneration plant, right, it’s not just polluting so much into our atmosphere, but it’s also a job for people. And so you can’t expect to want change, but not make it in a just way. These people still need a livelihood. And so you need to provide that. But you need to start transitioning to cleaner energy that also creates a better environment for all of us to live in. And so how do we make that just transition? And that’s, you know, a term that people use all the time, right, a just transition, but it’s hard to really know what that looks like. And I think that’s why we’re really proud that people worked on this, you know, long document is long for a reason, because these issues are complex. But that complexity has been worked out. And we do have answers, and our students are providing those answers. And that’s pretty inspiring, to me, at least. So yeah, so I think labor’s such a huge component. And then we also see a history in our country of unions coming together and fighting for people’s rights. And that’s something that should be continued and should be a proud legacy that we hold on to. Climate Justice is about, you know, equity and justice for all and a good livelihood for all people on this earth. And that includes jobs.
Yeah. And to add on the housing aspect as well is so large in this, because of that equity thing, it is so difficult to find safe, solid housing right now. And that’s just something that really needs to get addressed by our school and by a lot of different people, but really here at UCSC. So that’s kind of why we’re fighting for it. And the climate aspect, it’s like we said before, it’s part of it in so many different ways. And so yeah, we just want to get that that conversation going in that ball rolling.
And then specifically, if I can jump in again, with the with the housing, you see that people are really having to, you know, commute long distances. And so how does that impact the Earth when when all of us have to drive more and drive longer, instead of using public transportation? And then how about our buses? Like, what if our buses were electric, we’re all going to the same place up the hill. So that could be easily achieved. All these, you know, seemingly small changes, creates such a big difference. And so if we were just able to have really affordable and not this hypothetical affordable that we’re hearing a lot of in Santa Cruz, but really actually affordable housing in Santa Cruz, we could have so many students not having to pollute with their cars, and being able to cut down on on that waste as well.
Yeah, it’s interesting what you bring up about people having to commute long distance, another population that I think of is undocumented people who are, are displaced into the US in order to perform labor because of environmental crises that the US has perpetrated either with gas and oil companies, or just with general climate change, which has made their their homes unlivable. And I really appreciated what you all said about a notion of a just transition. I think something that has been criticized not particularly with this policy, but with the greater Green New Deal that was proposed in 2019, by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was that, and this is a quote from the Red Nation that I found, that “gradual reform attempts to treat the symptoms of a crisis rather than the structures of power that create crisis in the first place.” And one thing I noticed a lot with this University, and it was a little bit in the policy, too, is that we have a lot of acknowledgments, like land acknowledgments. But there seems to be very little like the promise of land back. And I was wondering what you all have, what your perspectives are on that. And if you see land back as a part of climate justice?
Gradual reform attempts to treat the symptoms of a crisis rather than the structures of power that create crisis in the first place.” – The Red Nation
I would completely agree with you on that. The fact that we have all these land acknowledgments put into place in every course have ever taken, it’s written into the syllabus. And it’s very much this copy and paste kind of thing now. And it doesn’t seem like there’s been a lot of action put behind it. And so ideally, what I would love to see happen is, like you said, some action from the campus, I would also love to see, especially for the Climate Coalition, it’s something that we would love to incorporate is the perspective of like Maya was saying, the Indigenous folks and people of color that their voices have been, I guess, quieted for so long. We want to get their take on this, because they were the people that took care of the land the best and for the longest time, before we ever came in. And I think using their perspective in order to create these climate solutions, and, and just to create the most healthy solutions that can actually be put into place, we would love to get their perspective on that, and to collaborate with them in that way. And ideally, in the perfect world. That’s something that we would be doing for forever, but hopefully now we can start to do that more.
Yeah, I would totally agree with Gwen. And from the perspective of the UCSC Climate Coalition, I would say it’s definitely a priority. Like I’m seeking out people that speak at our events, and we really try to highlight BIPOC voices in general.
I think when we speak about Indigenous knowledge, we always leave out Indigenous politics. We like to take what we need, but leave the rest, kind of deal. And that’s really not how it works. And so, I mean, of course, ideally, we would write a perfect fix-all document that would implement everything perfectly. But climate change really doesn’t work like that. And climate policy really doesn’t work like that. And so, ideally, we fight this battle on all fronts. And so we do what we can through the school, we do what we can, through, you know, the people who are here first to indigenous peoples. And, like I said, like Max and Gwen said, highlighting their voices, and really not only highlighting them, but pushing them forward as our leaders because they have so much more experience, and they are the first protectors of this land and the first to be harmed by what climate change is doing. And so we are not the brave ones, they are. And we are just here to give any sort of help or any sort of tools possible to start remotely like remedying the situation.
I think when we speak about Indigenous knowledge, we always leave out Indigenous politics.”
Thank you for those responses. I saw that the chairman Valentin Lopez was set to speak at your speaker series. And he is of the Amah Mutsun tribal band. But yeah, as you have said, it’s it’s a complicated history specifically with the UC because on one hand, UC Santa Cruz loves to speak about land acknowledgments. And on the other hand, they were trying just few years ago to build the telescope at Mauna Kea, completely dismissing indigenous sovereignty. I think another complicated area for me with climate change, and I think a lot of other students at this institution [agree], is the US military. The UC has such a long history of working with the military, I was looking into it a little bit today and yesterday. But UC Berkeley has been called by some as the “Birthplace of the Modern Nuclear Age,” just because in the 40s, UC Berkeley was sought out to build the first atomic bomb or look at and, you know, sort of plan around it. And I think today something I’ve learned in a lot of my sociology oriented classes is that the UC is not just complacent with the military, but also aids it. And I’m sure that you all know as climate activists that the US military is one of the biggest polluters that we have in the world. But in terms of divestment, is that something that your coalition is interested in divesting from, the US military funding? And what could be the challenges of that when it’s such a, you know, such a well funded source? And like even talking about funding possibilities in the policy, like a legislative source, like at what point do you draw the line when, when legislation is ultimately coming from a government that also aids in climate change in the climate crisis? So a very loaded question. But whatever your thoughts or feelings are on that.
I have a pretty personal connection to the military. My father is a veteran, he’s 100% Disabled Veteran, and came out of his service, really hating the military and continues to this day to protest against the military. And so I’ve grown up in the space of acknowledging that our servicemen and women go and fight for our country, and then don’t receive the benefits or the help that they need afterwards. And that’s unjust on that hand. And then on the other hand, we’re not only polluting and killing our own servicemen and women, but we are also polluting and killing others and other places as well. And so it’s harm on both ends. And it’s just, I have very, very strong opinions on how our military budget is grossly spent. And so, and all those resources that are wasted, and many servicemen and women could tell you the same, that these burn pits that they have to be next to are giving them cancer and giving others cancer. And so this is where the intersection meets, and we have to just call out our military for frankly, being a humanitarian injustice, just creating a real disgusting sore on Earth. So I think that the Climate Coalition would be strongly in favor of divestment, and then other divestment as well. I think when you walk through the Quarry, you see Wells Fargo ATMs, and Chase ATMs and all these banks that we just accept as normal on our campus. And while we look at our redwoods — and it’s all connected. I think the more we preach this, the more we act on this, the more we make this information readily available to people, hopefully we can get a strong consensus among students that this is not right. We should not continue to accept this society the way it is.
Yeah, I completely agree. I think something that you kind of hinted at was that education part. And I really do think that that’s the best that the Climate Coalition can do at this moment. And I hope that we just continue to do our best to keep educating students, faculty staff, on these issues and how they are so interconnected, because I think it’s not obvious to anyone. I’ve been learning so so much since I’ve come here, about how crazy it all is, and how interconnected it is. And hopefully, we’re able to just make that more obvious to people and bring that to light.
Yeah, thank you. I think that what you just said, what you both shared stresses the importance of education. Like for example, I had never given a second thought when I went and took money out of an ATM like hey, wow, I’m with my money giving fees to this corporation that is directly harming our planet. And I am sure you all saw the scientist’s rebellion action, which recently happened at Wells Fargo, where a group of scientists superglued their hands to the Wells Fargo Bank. And that was something I was very grateful to have learned about in one of my classes, one of my queer Critical Race and Ethnic Studies classes. And I think there’s such a gap in terms of education. Like the things I brought up, I’ve learned about in my sociology classes and my ethnic studies classes. But there’s such a gap in terms of what you study. And I think that became very apparent with the COLA strikes as well, in terms of awareness about labor, politics, and what was taught in classes. Just on the topic of that scientist rebellion action. What are your thoughts on that? And also, as people who are pushing forward these teachings and this petition, what do you think about direct actions like that and their potential power?
I actually have a personal anecdote similar to the Wells Fargo superglue story. The reason the Climate Coalition sort of began in the first place was because I would say most of the steering committee members, and most of the original members met at a strike where we shut down banks. And it was a climate strike where we protested outside Wells Fargo, Bank of America and all these people, these banks to divest from fossil fuels, and divest from all these awful places, they were putting their money. So I would say that would be where we began. It just really reminds me of our roots.
I actually have a personal anecdote similar to the Wells Fargo superglue story … It just really reminds me of our roots.”
Yeah, I think direct actions like this, if anything, they’re a great, great way to get people aware that there is an issue. We are quite privileged to be able to pay attention to these issues, and not have to worry about where food is coming from, taking care of a child. And so I hope that direct actions, like seeing scientists Super Glue their hands, can blow up the internet. And people that were not aware of these issues can see it. And maybe they never would have seen it otherwise. So hopefully, that’s what the march will do that we’re planning, ideally. So that’s how I feel about direct action.
Yeah. And just to add on to what Gwen said, beautifully, we are very privileged to be able to sit in our classrooms and learn about this stuff and not have to think about or some of us don’t have to think about food or housing or all those things. And so that’s, I think, why we also want to make our events always have some kind of need based action as well. And so we try to always have food available or you know, and it’s not just to entice, everyone loves food, right? People come in and we love that. But it’s also because people need a lunch sometimes, people need to have a snack, sometimes they didn’t eat all day and they had to get to class and that’s a need. And so we want to address those needs because you can’t you can’t help others if you’re empty as well. So I think we need to help people to meet them where they’re at. So I think that’s really important to us as well.
You can’t you can’t help others if you’re empty as well.”
That’s a very powerful sentiment. And I agree with that. And I think that became increasingly apparent to me through organizing on this campus that I was stunned when I first went to a COLA strike, and people were handing out sunscreen, there’s such a culture of care on this campus amongst the students where it’s like, okay, our administration is not going to take care of us. Let’s take care of each other. And I think that’s what I really value about organizations like these. And when you mentioned a march, I was wondering if you wanted to tell our listeners, what the plan is for Friday?
Yeah, so this Friday, April 22, Earth Day, we are going to start at around 9am, hosting various teachings. And those will be something where you can just show up, you don’t have to bring notes or anything. And you’re gonna get to learn lots of different things about climate science, how to be good activists, I think even public speaking is one of them. So lots of different great things that will end at around 12. And then we will have a rally from 12 to around 1pm. And during this time, you will be able to make some sandwiches, get some snacks. And we’re hoping that it’ll be a very celebratory thing. And we’re going to do some chants here, some speeches and music. And then at 1pm, we’re going to march from the quarry around the whole campus and and at Kerr Hall, where we will then do another bit of a rally, some more chanting, and hopefully we will get to talk to the chancellor at that point and present the policy platform to her. We hope that it’s a great turnout. We’re so excited to just kind of get that face to face interaction with people. And I think it’s something that we’ve been missing for so long. So if anything, it’ll be great to just kind of foster some friendships and see people face to face.
Yeah, I think too, I have been listening a lot to Leah Thomas. She just came out with her book. So maybe that’s why, but I love what she says about joy and how joy is the greatest resistance. And so through all this anxiety, all this doom and gloom about the climate, we still have hope and we still have solutions, and we still have a future. We’re just trying to tell our institutions that they can’t take that away from us. You know, you can’t take away us dancing with great music and great food and friends and protesting for destruction of our climate. You know, we want people to bring their joy and get ready to have a good time and also to stand up to our school a little bit.
Joy is the greatest resistance.”