Battle to Save Our Campus

BY: PATRICE EWELL

Kaylee Weatherly plug’s her Watts Up Pro meter into the printer and checks her electrical appetite in the Alliance for a Greener Campus Program’s office. The Watts Pro meter shows the wattage (power) being used, and how much it cost in dollars and cents. This is a step of progression towards the struggle to save energy and money on campus The annual utility bills for Cal State Long Beach total more than $7.5 million, according to a press release. Whether you are aware of it or not, the environment as well as the budget on campus, is in danger. Although it is in danger, students are taking action to save energy on campus. KayleeWeatherly happens to be one of them. “We only have one planet, humans have a detrimental effect on the environment,” said Weatherly.

Weatherly’s fingers are cramping up as she plows away writing yet another newsletter for The Alliance to Save Energy Campus Green Program’s website (ASECG). Weatherly is the Project Coordinator of Alliance to Save Energy Campus Green Program at CSULB, a non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency and a clean environment.

She takes a bite of her bagel, takes another sip of coffee and is off to her next meeting. She spends on average, 11 hours on campus per day. This is her last year studying public relations and environmental science.

Weatherly is a go-getter. She is in the University Honors Program and the Sustainability Task Force, another environmental sustainability organization on campus. She also is the Treasurer of the Public Relations Society of America organization on campus. Her blue eyes lit up when as said she carries 15-16 units.

Three to four cups of coffee per day carry Weatherly through her daily duties. She wasn't always on-the -go and had a schedule packed to the max. In her first years of college, she felt like any other freshman.  “I was shy at first,” said Weatherly. “I was a little intimidated by seniors.” All that shyness ran out like the sand in an hourglass when Weatherly became an intern at ASGCP.

With her right leg crossed over her left leg, she gently smiles as she divulges on the phone-call that started her quest to save energy. She remembers it as if it happened yesterday.  “I was sitting on my bed in my Los Alamitos dorm room (on-campus) when the Campus Green Program representative called me and told me I landed the internship,” said Weatherly.

Weatherly was ecstatic. She jumped up and down on her bed while receiving the great news. Now, she had the official environmental crusader stamp of approval. Not only had she landed the internship, she was getting paid for it, too.

No journey in life comes without adversity. Soon, Weatherly found that out. Weatherly and The Green Campus Program interns continued to promote solutions to save the environment. They hosted workshops, promoted green job opportunities that were available at job fairs and worked with the Resident Advisors (RAs) in Residential Life (on campus) to spread the word about saving energy.

Yet they still face obstacles in their efforts to promote saving energy. In the cool air conditioning of the Green Campus office, Felix Navarette, Team Manager of the Alliance for the Green Campus Program discussed some of the challenges the group has faced. “Getting funding to promote environmental sustainability awareness has definitely been an obstacle,” said Navarette. “The Calif. financial crisis has affected not only the state, but our program as well.”

As Navarette crosses his leg in his indigo jeans and horizontal striped polo shirt, he explained why students should care in the first place about protecting our environment on campus. “When students do not recycle their waste it ends up in the ocean killing wildlife and creating dead zones.” According to The National Ocean Service, less oxygen dissolved in the water is often referred to as a “dead zone” because most marine life either dies, or, if they are mobile such as fish, they leave the area. Habitats that would normally be teeming with life become, essentially, biological deserts.

To add to that, “Some obstacles we have faced while trying to outreach to students about sustainability is the unfortunate fact that CSULB is a commuter campus,” said Weatherly. She explained that sometimes AGCP faces difficulties because students are less willing to get involved with their campus community and commit to events, and/or projects ACGP hosts. She believes some students have the mind-set that they want to come to campus, go to their classes and then go home. Other obstacles AGCP see is that some students still aren't receptive to the idea of sustainable behavior change. Weatherly elaborates on simple solutions students can practice in order to save energy. “Sometimes they have to cut down long shower times and taking the time to unplug our appliances not in use in order to conserve energy and water,” said Weatherly.