The Ad Hoc Committee for Sustainability met for the first time on Monday in hopes of getting the program grounded for support.The new committee, approved by the Academic Senate, focuses on shifting the way the college approaches education by incorporating relevant and contemporary issues such as global climate change into the learning experience.

Professor Ling O’ Connor, associate professor of the social sciences, was recently appointed as the new chairman.

“The presentation went well and people were attentive and excited to start,” said O’Connor of the 20 plus instructors who attended and would be responsible for
facilitating the goals of the committee.

Chemistry Professor Debra Wilson attended the meeting and is a strong supporter of the committee. “We need an administrative team that recognizes the need for sustainability,” Wilson said.

Advocating the need to involve students, she added, “[sustainability] should be woven into the educational process, students must be opened to greater awareness.”

With most of southern California being considered a desert region, water is an issue that is pushed to the forefront of Ad Hoc’s agenda and its use around campus.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) reports that urban area’s demand for water exceeds 2.9 trillion gallons annualy and that shortages cut into those numbers by 25 percent in an average year and upwards of 60 percent in a drought. Californian water supplies will always go with some amount of shortage even under nominal terms.

The verdant and lush green lawns, along with the mirror pools and streaming run of water on campus exist in contradiction to the numbers and are why an organization such as The Ad Hoc Committee was commissioned.

The problem with addressing these issues, along with any operation that seeks to alter a person’s lifestyle or a public body’s operation, is gathering enough attention to be merited consideration.

Kay Dabelow, president of the Academic Senate, who was at the meeting Monday and has pledged her support, said: “The fact that we have created a Senate committee gives the notion of sustainability great visibility. The campus had already been involved in environmentally sound measures and action but those never get heard from.”

With a physical body to attach the issue to, and more poignant to address concerns and questions to, the committee for sustainability has removed much of the difficulty for the students and faculty in volunteering their efforts and time.

PCC would not be alone in its endeavor to regulate its environment with its academic populace and method.

Northern Arizona University has established the “Ponderosa Project” which mirrors The Ad Hoc Committee’s framework.

According to their online mantra, the number one goal is to “educate and empower the faculty in an interdisciplinary effort.”

The key, which is stressed by O’Connor, is not leaving anyone out of the equation, from top to bottom and vice versa.

With instructors ranging from fields such as architecture and social sciences pledging their support, and a student organization Seeds of Change (advised by O’Connor), a movement for sustainability is definitely moving forward but yet to be seen is what permanent sanctions it could establish and much of that is up to the people who make up the campus.

“You do as much as you can and eventually all the parts you’ve assembled will collide and at the end of the day you find that it all comes together,” said O’Connor. Seeds of Change was recently given a parcel of land to demonstrate the feasibility in substituting the campus landscape with more native, eco-friendly flora.

Dubbed the “Native Garden,” it resides behind the Vosloh Forum.

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