Tag Archives: Associated Students

CSUN Leads the Scene to Keep It Green

While many consider climate change to be the most important issue of our time, not everyone agrees. Although former President Obama took an active role on the international scene to attempt to curb climate change when he signed last year’s Paris Agreement, President Trump’s actions during his first 40 days in office may signal a shift in U.S. policy, both domestically and abroad. And, according to a Gallup poll taken during last year’s elections, climate change failed to rank as a top issue among Democrat and Republican-leaning voters.

Despite this, California has implemented its own plan to combat climate change. The Associated Students at California State University, Northridge have as well. A new campus Sustainability Center is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in May 2017. With the opening of the center, CSUN could be considered a leader in sustainability efforts.

“It’s going to be the most innovative building on our campus, as well as in the CSU at this point,” said CSUN Director of Sustainability and Energy Austin Eriksson. “It’ll be the first building with composting toilets. It has the first grey water system on campus, so water that’s used in sinks will be used outside of the building for irrigation.”

The center will house CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability. Here, students will be able to find studies on sustainability, informational flyers, and even volunteer opportunities. The A.S. Recycling Center will also be located at the new Sustainability Center.

“It was recognized that there’s a lot of different groups on campus, and we all have the same goals to promote sustainability on campus and educate our students,” said Darien Siguenza,  Chair of the Associated Students Committee on Sustainability. “I think it’s going to be really awesome to have everyone under the same roof; and just to be able to have that collaboration and that same space, I think is going to be very beneficial for the future.”

With the new Sustainability Center, Associated Students and CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability hope to expand upon their current educational efforts and resources. However, while they recognize the importance of their recycling programs on campus, and acknowledge they can be improved with better signage, they want others to know this is only a small part of what should be done. They say other things like waste prevention and energy efficiency are more important. The manner in which the Sustainability Center will be powered reflects this belief. Since it will generate all of the energy it will use, it will be a net-zero energy building.

The campus community as a whole has welcomed and supported sustainability efforts at CSUN. Professor Loraine Lundquist, a physics and mathematics lecturer at the CSUN Institute for Sustainability, said this support is in stark contrast to the lack of support among the nation’s current political leaders.

“Over 12,000 papers have been published on the topic, and 97 percent of those papers agree with the consensus that first of all, our globe is getting warmer, and second of all, that we are the ones causing it,” she said. “But that is not the perception in the country right now, and that really does change our politics. There’s a lot of politicians that themselves have that skepticism, and it’s made it very hard to implement solutions, because a lot of the most important solutions are policy solutions.”

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Safety from Solidarity

Students at California State University, Northridge may have reason to wonder if they’re safe, especially with nationwide campus threats during recent years.
According to the Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data, in 2014 private schools in Southern California such as Loyola Mount University and the University of Southern California, had higher crime rates than two public schools in the area, California State University, Los Angeles and California State University, Northridge.

“I don’t think [private or public] ownership is the factor here,” CSUN Sociology Professor Victor Shaw said. “I think what matters is location and the way the university operates. The location of the University of Southern California happens to sit in the part of the city which is highly problematic.”

CSUN has certain safety programs and measures available throughout campus. Besides the campus police, students may use the Matador Patrol, student escorts available every evening. More than ninety blue emergency lights have been installed all over campus, and the dorms are accessible only to residents with electronic key cards.

“I think our department of police services is particularly concerned with student safety and communicating with students,” Melissa Giles, Associate Director of Residential Life said. “I think the command staff really listens when students have concerns. For such a large campus, CSUN is safe.”

Although CSUN has installed these safety measures, some students say they still feel that campus lighting is an issue when it comes to feeling completely safe on campus.

“In the Campus Safety Ad Hoc Committee, that was an issue that was brought up,” Nick Jackson, Associated Students senator said. “We did have talks with Captain Scott VanScoy, and there are spots on campus that are more populated than others. You’ll see more students going around the USU than you would see near Nordhoff Hall. There’s going to be more lighted areas where there’s more traffic. We’re still trying to get more funding for lights.”

While administrators at Cal State Northridge have made efforts to ensure the safety of students and staff, there are still improvements, being sought by the university, among them more and better communication about what already exists.

“We have so many safety measures built around students that will work, if the students choose to let them work or to work with them,” said Tim Trevan, Director of Student Housing and Conference Services.

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Athletic Allegiance

The Sport Clubs program at California State University, Northridge is unlike many others because it offers so many students the chance to take part in an activity they’re interested in, to challenge themselves, and to build friendships.

“We have kind of approached ours a little differently,” CSUN Sport Clubs Manager John Paul Gale said. “A lot of schools’ sport clubs fall underneath student affairs, or in our case what would’ve been the Matador Involvement Center, but we have a department through the Associated Students explicitly for sport clubs.”

CSUN’s Sport Clubs program has more staffing than other schools, too. While most universities have only one full-time staff member, CSUN has four, according to Gale.

“We also have two full-time athletic trainers, an athletic training room, a weight room dedicated explicitly for sport clubs participants, which is very unique,” Gale said. “We are one of the few schools in the country who has that.”

The Sport Clubs program gives students the opportunity to compete regionally and nationally, allowing students to represent their school, and demonstrate their school spirit.

“We do perform very well,” said CSUN Sport Clubs Graduate Assistant Jade Law. “I know that our students represent CSUN very well, I think, and not just academically. We do hold all of our students to maintain a certain GPA level. They are required to perform academically, but they also represent CSUN even as high as the national level. We had our rugby club go all the way to Pennsylvania a few years back to represent CSUN nationally.”

All clubs are funded through a $92 fee from every student through their tuition each semester, according to Associated Student’s Lower Division Senator Nick Jackson. The total is around $8 million, which is dispersed to all clubs and organizations on campus.

“We [receive] about $650,000 from the A.S. budget,” Gale said. “In addition to that, the clubs put in their own dues and fundraise close to another $100,000, and then we also get donations that vary year-to-year: anywhere from $10 to 50,000, that goes towards the clubs and the operation of the clubs.”

There are often leftover funds at the end of the year. According to members present at a recent Sport Clubs Council meeting, there is $13,500 left in the A.S. budget.

“The funding that we reported at the last council meeting is allocated funds specifically for our sport clubs program,” CSUN Sport Clubs Council President Stephanie Peterson said. “During those meetings, people often put in requests for supplemental funding for our clubs. So, let’s say one of our teams has to travel to nationals and they don’t have money for plane tickets, then they would submit a request. Our executive board would take it to a vote and recommend an amount to allocate to them from that budget. Then we bring it before the council, and then the council votes on the amount that we recommended for the club.”

People often question the difference between club sports, NCAA sports, and intramurals, but according to Gale, CSUN students can actually choose among four levels of sports participation on campus.

“There’s your most informal, ” he said, “which is informal recreation, where people just show up and play a game on a field. Intramurals is the next step, where you’re playing games maybe once or twice a week and you’re playing a set game with set rules, and there’s no practice, no training or anything that goes on, you’re just playing a formal game once a week. The next step is sport clubs, and above that is NCAA athletics. The thing that those two have in common is that they’re intercollegiate.”

Aside from giving students the chance to play sports, CSUN has also designed a way to engage, showcase, and build a brand around their clubs and athletes, according to the Matador Sports Network web page. MSN covers sport clubs events, makes highlight reels for the teams, and builds a weekly sports show with team interviews.

“It started a little while back, a couple years ago with James [Jewett], I believe,” said Peterson. “He was from the roller hockey [team], and I also believe he was a journalism student, and he had this idea of just creating a general space where we can broadcast information about our CSUN sport clubs program. That was started, I think, four or five years ago.”

Jewett met with Gale, and they blended their ideas together, Gale said, and they started the MSN.

“Their objective is to live stream games now, and then also to provide highlights from games that we record and live-stream, and produce a weekly show called The Brief,” Gale said.

CSUN Sport Clubs officials said they want to be able to receive even more community recognition and refine what they have in the years to come.

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Moving Forward

Los Angeles is the most congested city in the nation, according to INRIX, a transportation and traffic data analysis company.

That’s one reason L.A. is pushing for improved public transportation options to encourage more residents to get out of their cars and use public transportation.

After voters approved Measure R in 2008, L.A. made some steps to improve its public transportation options. But one key part of town was left out of those measures: the San Fernando Valley.

Now, city and transit officials are trying to change that. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has proposed a new $120 billion plan that would include funding for a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, toll roads on the 105 and 405 freeways, and extensions to other light rail routes in the city.

At Cal State Northridge, some 59 percent of students drive alone to school and 73 percent of the faculty and staff drive to school, according to a recent study done by CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability. Some 200,000 vehicles come to campus in an average week.

“In the Valley, public transportation has been overlooked for years,” said Ken Premo, the manager of Support Services for Associated Students at CSUN. “There is limited service, and any student who comes to the university knows that they can’t easily get from place to place. There’s not a lot of stops and there’s not a lot of options.”

It can take some students up to two hours one way to get to campus via public transportation, Premo said. The students also have to make transfers on and off buses multiple times in order to get to campus.

“A robust transit system that serves the needs of our students means a student would be able to better balance a very busy class schedule and a part time job,” CSUN’s President Dr. Dianne Harrison said at the Valley Transportation Summit in March.

But not everyone thinks adding more public transit options is the solution. The Metropolitan Transit Authority reported in January that it lost more than 10 percent of its boardings from 2006 to 2015. The Times also said Metro has fewer boardings than it did three decades ago.

Larry Isrow, CSUN’s Parking and Transportation Services Manager, said ridership has declined across the region because transit routes aren’t convenient.

“We did a study on campus that showed that 57 percent of people would be inclined to take the bus if they only had to take one bus,” Isrow said. “Once you have to start making transfers, it becomes inconvenient and too time consuming, and people won’t do that.”

According to CSUN data, half of the university’s population lives within a ten mile radius from campus. That’s why Isrow believes CSUN should be a transportation hub.

“We would like to see the transit center connect with the proposed East Valley Transit Corridor via Nordhoff Street,” Isrow said. “We’d also like to see the [CSUN] transit center have improvements made to it, so we could increase the volume and number of lines that are coming into there.”

State Senator Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat representing the 18th District in the San Fernando Valley, agreed that CSUN should be a transportation hub.

“If you go and show a big picture map of the Valley, and you include a bus rapid transit coming down Nordhoff and one coming up Reseda, it sends a message that the Northwest Valley is included as part of this larger transportation plan,” Hertzberg said. “The Northeast Valley benefits because so many students from CSUN come from the Northeast Valley. It fundamentally completes the picture of the San Fernando Valley.”

While cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. may have been built for public transportation use, L.A. has more suburban ground to cover and may seem better suited for the car. But CSUN Urban Studies and Planning Professor Craig Olwert said it is not too late for L.A. to get into the public transportation game.

“The subway system has been fairly successful and the Orange Line has been very successful,” Olwert said. “There is a demand for [public transit] and as we keep allowing more high density to be built around those stations, eventually you’ll start seeing an increase in ridership.”

Ultimately, the decision to bring more transit options to the Valley may be be left in the hands of voters. If the new plan is approved by the Metro Board of Directors in June, it will go on the November ballot, where it will need two-thirds approval to pass.

 

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Occupy Your Fridge

The number of farmers markets around the United States has grown in the past few years. CSUN has jumped on board with this new phenomenon, and has extended its contract to continue the weekly farmers market on campus for another year.

“The farmers market here on campus has been so successful with students that I’ve talked to,” Klotz Student Health Center registered dietitian Ellen Bauerfeld said. “They are running over there each Tuesday, and I would say about 90 percent of the students I see shop at the farmers market.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that 8,268 farmers markets were operating in the United States in 2014, up 180 percent since 2006.

“There are … farmers markets all over the United States,” said Marvin Halaby, owner of Upper Loveland Farms. “It’s popular everywhere, and  it’s not going to stop.”

Certain factors have contributed to the growing number of farmers markets in the United States. One is the desire to find a sense of community.

“Nobody wants to go to a store anymore and buy a wax apple,” Halaby said. “They want to be in a farmers market environment with their families on a nice day.”

“What you’re looking at is the return of the ‘agri-culture’, the culture that was wrapped up in this [kind of community], that we left in World War II,” L.A Kitchen founder and president Robert Egger said. “An army, for the first time in the world, came home and didn’t go back to the farm. Their grandchildren are now trying to turn the ship around, and find their way back. It’s a really amazing time.”

Another factor is the desire to support local farmers and businesses.

Sales at farmers markets were slightly over $1 billion annually, according to the USDA National Farmer Market Managers Survey.

“For a lot of consumers, local is what they’re looking for,” Egger said. ”This ties into supporting the local economy and supporting the local farmers.”

Many people have become more conscious of what they eat, but experts say it might not be so easy for everyone to start to eating organic produce.

“As a whole, most people don’t want to change their eating habits,” Bauerfield said. “It takes work and it takes commitment.”

“Salt and sugar is crack,” Egger said, “and we’ve  been literally addicted…I defy you to put those Doritos chips away at eleven o’clock at night. That’s by design; there is an addictive quality. We kind of act like it’s a personal choice, [but] it’s harder than hard; these are like cigarettes and we’ve been raised to eat this way.”

Halaby said farmers markets make healthy food affordable for people from all economic backgrounds. Many vendors accept Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, allowing eligible recipients to use benefits to buy produce.

“It makes it easier for people to come out and use their EBT cards,” he said. “They are able to buy good fruit and vegetables for their families….We try to educate a lot of our customers, and keep them educated, so they can pass [information about nutrition] off to their young ones.”

Bauerfeld said farmers markets have been making a positive impact, especially among younger people, and are here to stay.

“I don’t think it’s a fad,” she said. “I do think it’s a trend, and I think it’s just the beginning of the local food movement. I do see that this population, our students’ population, is craving something different. They’re looking for something different besides fast food, and they are looking for more than just a drive through.”

“More and more, you’re seeing young men and women coming onto campus with a greater palate and a greater expectation of what they want to eat,” Egger said. “Don’t occupy Wall Street; occupy your refrigerator.”

 

 

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