UC Berkeley students strike for UC Green New Deal

Emma Drake/Staff

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With about 300 people in attendance, Students for Climate Action and the Sunrise Movement organized a climate strike Friday to demand the UC system adopt a Green New Deal.

Josh Hauser, campus sophomore and hub co-coordinator at Sunrise Berkeley, said the UC Green New Deal is a resolution to ensure climate equity at the UC system given the university is the largest employer and landowner in California, the fifth largest economy in the world.

“The UC Green New Deal is really taking big points from the Green New Deal that goes across the nation and making it specific to our university,” Hauser said.

At the universitywide level, the resolution is aimed at providing affordable housing and basic needs for all UC students, making environmental justice a graduation requirement, ending unsustainable partnerships and bettering the campuses for marginalized communities, according to Hauser.

In her speech during the strike, Ella Smith, Berkeley Student Cooperative board member and a former Daily Californian reporter, said UC campuses tend to be near coastal areas with intense housing crises.

“We have an economic inequality crises, we have a housing crisis, we have a climate crisis. The cost of a UC education should not be sleeping in cars or super-commuting; the cost of a UC education should not be a toll on the climate,” Smith said. “We can be the leaders to champion affordable student housing, we can be leaders to champion climate policy and we can be leaders to champion the UC Green New Deal.”

Mia Silverberg, campus senior, and Selena Melgoza, campus junior, are co-leads for the Office of Unsustainable Partnerships at the ASUC.

Silverberg and Melgoza spoke about their Pour Out Pepsi campaign, which targets UC Berkeley’s pouring rights contract with PepsiCo.

“By continuing to uphold and renew this contract, the UC sends a message loud and clear that it values the interests of PepsiCo over the well-being of us as students, workers and the environment locally and globally,” Melgoza said.

The contract, which is set for renewal in July 2020, requires about 80% of the beverages or products sold on campus to be PepsiCo products, according to Melgoza. UC Berkeley earns $1.3 million annually from this partnership, which is only 0.5% of its annual sponsorship profit.

Sage Lenier, campus senior and instructor for her award-winning Zero Waste DeCal, spoke about creating a campuswide graduation requirement centered on environmental justice as part of the UC Green New Deal.

“We demand that the next generation of computer scientists, business people, novelists, doctors, visionaries, artists, engineers be educated on not only the environmental problems we are facing but what options exist for building a regenerative, sustainable, equitable future,” Lenier said.

Contact Olivia Buccieri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.