Justice, Sustainability and Diversity Among
Concerns Expressed by Students at Chancellor's Town
By Ioana Patringenaru | May 25, 2006
Economic justice, sustainability, diversity and campus
climate were on the minds of students who took part
last week in a town
hall meeting for students with Chancellor Marye
About 100 students, faculty and staff turned out
at the Faculty Club on Monday. Of those, some two
dozen students wore green T-shirts and wrist bands.
They stood up while Viraf Soroushian, a fourth-year
sociology and economics major, spoke. He said he represented
a coalition of students, organizations, employees
and businesses, from Porter’s Pub, to Students
for Economic Justice to Students Take Action Now:
“We’re united in our deep concern for
a social and environmentally sustainable campus,”
Soroushian said. “We expect nothing short of
excellence from our university.”
The coalition believes that social and environmental
justice fit perfectly in the university’s principles
of community, he said. The university has taken several
steps to promote sustainability, including the creation
of an advisory committee, but it can do better, Soroushian
added. He then asked what the administration will
do next year to make UCSD a leader in the area of
social, environmental and economic justice.
The university has launched two environmental initiatives,
Chancellor Fox replied. One focuses on research, but
the other is looking at practical ways to improve
the environment. Also, a power plant on campus generates
95 percent of UCSD’s electricity needs, said
Assistant Vice Chancellor Gary Matthews. Next year,
the campus will focus on hybrid vehicles and natural
gas shuttle buses, he said. Solar panels will make
their appearance on campus by July.
In response to students’ requests, Chancellor
Fox pledged to hold multiple meetings with them until
they feel they got to the bottom of their agenda.
She also urged students to tell the administration
about their priorities.
“We’d like very much to work with all
of you to make sure that all of the factors that you
think are important are either being addressed or
we can explain to you why they’re not being
addressed,” Fox said.
After the meeting, Soroushian said he believed students
got their message across. He also said he hopes the
Chancellor will push for administrative change and
promote student involvement.
Chancellor Fox was supportive of a plan to make sure
that clothing sold in UC stores isn’t made in
sweatshops, political theory major Akaash Gupta told
his fellow students during Monday’s town hall.
UC President Robert Dynes said earlier this month
that the UC system will take part in a program to
cut back on apparel made in sweatshops.
“Thank you very much,” Gupta told Fox.
“You’re welcome,” she replied.
Campus climate also was a hot topic of discussion.
Student Vince Arvizo expressed concern about the fact
that Porter’s Pub’s lease won’t
be renewed. As a transfer student, Arvizo said he
found it difficult to make friends on campus.
“I found that Porter’s Pub is kind of
a spark of life on a socially dead campus,”
Chancellor Fox deferred to Vice Chancellor Joseph
Watson, saying it was the first time she’d heard
about this issue. The university isn’t renewing
Porter’s lease, Watson said, adding he wasn’t
sure about the specifics. But the plan is to have
a restaurant and an “activity venue” at
that location, he said. “That means a bar,”
Chancellor Fox interjected, drawing laughter from
Several students also said they were disappointed
about the lack of diversity on campus.
“It’s just really important that we keep
in mind the under-privileged, under-represented and
marginalized students,” said Kevin Mann, the
newly elected chair of the Student Affirmative Action
Mann is a tutor at Lemon Grove Middle School and
sometimes takes his charges to the UCSD campus. During
one visit, a pupil asked where the black students
were. Mann said it broke his heart to tell the boy
they only made up about one percent of the student
body at UCSD.
UCSD’s student body is unfortunately not as
diverse as it ought to be, Fox conceded.
“I believe very strongly in diversity,”
She urged students to get involved in outreach programs.
It’s important to reach students as early at
middle school, she said. It’s also important
to provide them with support, including programs such
as OASIS, once they get here, she added. The university
will provide $93,000 in permanent funds for OASIS
this coming year, Vice Chancellor Watson said.
“It is immoral for us to admit a student and
not give them the support they need,” Chancellor
Last week's town
hall was one of three such meetings Fox plans
to hold with faculty, staff and students. Other town
halls scheduled include:
May 30, 2006 Faculty 3:30 - 4:30 PM Faculty Club
June 22, 2006 Staff 12:00 - 1:00 PM Eucalyptus Point