Students Pack Master Plan Workshop on Campus Sustainability Issues

Participants at a Campus Master Plan sustainability workshop use signs to reply to a question during a hands-on exercise.
Participants at a Campus Master Plan sustainability workshop use signs to reply to a question during a hands-on exercise.

Water conservation, the university’s carbon footprint, use of campus space and other sustainability issues drew passionate, like-minded students to a packed master plan workshop.

The students, which composed a majority of the workshop participants, represented disciplines ranging from biology to urban and regional planning to physiology to business administration. They listened intently during the presentation by Ayers Saint Gross, the consulting firm tasked with formulating Cal Poly Pomona’s next Campus Master Plan.

Students and faculty participated in hands-on exercises and engaged in discussions with members of the consulting firm. The Feb. 28 workshop also gave students a forum to address their views and concerns on issues involving sustainability.

“It was important for me to attend the workshop in order to represent Associated Students Inc. and the interests of students,” said Martha Rosario, the ASI Secretary of Sustainability. “I see my role as playing a pivotal part in campus sustainability.”

For students at the workshop, sustainability is the foundation of their academic pursuits and a cause that hits close to home.

“Sustainability is at the core of my studies. I recently finished a class about Global Regenerative Studies, and I believe that this class and sustainability are concepts that intertwine and should be heavily incorporated in the future campus master plan,” said Rosario, a junior majoring in environmental biology with an interdisciplinary minor in nonviolence studies.

Ketsia Ellis, a junior majoring in civil engineering with minors in regenerative studies and music, was another concerned workshop participant.

“As a civil engineer who is focusing on environmental issues and sustainability, it was very important for me to go to this workshop. I care a lot about our campus and about sustainability,” Ellis said. “I am basing my career on creating more sustainable communities, so I have a strong passion for these issues.”

In addition, Ellis is president of the Food Justice Club on campus. The first phase of a study commissioned by the California State University system in 2015 has found that up to 24 percent of students feel insecure about access to food. Food is one of the myriad issues branching out from sustainability discussions.

“The focus of the Food Justice Club is on finding a way to provide students with nutritious, sustainably grown and fresh food. We have many ideas for more ways to support food insecurity on campus, such as a student-run cafe and creating greater access to the food offered by the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies,” Ellis said.

Joshua Wolf, a junior majoring in urban and regional planning, identified priorities he felt the university should have in regard to sustainability.

“First, providing both students and faculty better access to alternative modes of transit,” Wolf said. “Second, assessing the current uses of rooms within buildings in order to resolve any discrepancies in how uses are assigned to room versus what actually happens there. If we can effectively and efficiently use the space we have, then there will be no need for excessive build out.”

Attendees at the 2½-hour workshop ran the gamut of campus stakeholders, which included representatives from the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, the Colleges of Science, Environmental Design, Engineering and Business Administration, the Department of Parking & Transportation Services, the university’s rideshare office, Associated Students Inc. and student clubs.

In its presentation, Ayers Saint Gross examined some of the university’s sustainability efforts, including solar power, reclaimed water for irrigation, alternative transportation modes, LEED buildings, and recycling and composting programs. Hands-on exercises polled workshop participants about the university’s efforts in sustainability.

The aims of the open workshop were to collect feedback about sustainability and to gauge viewpoints from the campus community about the university’s efforts. The information will help shape a draft of the Campus Master Plan, which is expected to be completed in the fall for administrative review. When the next master plan is adopted, Facilities Planning & Management will be tasked to carry out the objectives that involve the campus infrastructure.

Additional information about the process is available on the Campus Master Plan webpage.