Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    ASLC Town Hall Meeting focuses on environmental sustainability

    Peralta Trustee Nicky González Yuen said enlightening students about environmental sustainability should be a key part of general education classes throughout the district.
    His remarks were delivered at the ASLC’s April 23 Town Hall Meeting in the Forum.
    Laney geography instructor Mark Rauzon also participated in the discussion entitled “Sustainability Movements.” Mark Corbett Wilson Laney’s representative to the Peralta Student Council, moderated the discussion.
    Wilson’s casual style, combined with the lack of a PA system, encouraged an intimate atmosphere during the discussion.
    González Yuen, who also teaches Political Science at De Anza College in Cupertino, CA, started off the main conversation. He emphasized the importance of student participation “in making social changes.”
    González Yuen said that even when there are “enlightened leaders in place, they simply don’t have the power to make the changes that need to be made; when you look at the history of social change, you see that it is almost always driven from the bottom.
    “It really takes mass movements to both encourage and pressure leaders to make institutional changes,” González Yuen said. He noted how community college students are a driving force in the current minimum wage increase movement, citing one of his former students.
    González Yuen credited the student with helping to pass San Jose’s minimum wage increase to $10 an hour. “She was working on a project on how to eliminate poverty,” he said, “She was one of those people trying to figure out, do you put gas in your car, or do you buy your books?”
    González Yuen said that she “began organizing a coalition… that eventually pulled in organized labor. They helped to pass a millionaire’s tax, as well as the increase in the minimum wage… Three years ago no one was talking about the minimum wage!”
    González Yuen said the students eventually investigated where school money was being invested. “They looked and they saw that we (De Anza) had a foundation that had a multi-million dollar portfolio.”
    He said that after a year the students “got that foundation board to divest its holdings from all its dirty carbon stocks.” He said De Anza is the first community college board in the nation to “invest in a green portfolio, and that just happened this past fall.”
    González Yuen said that Peralta has “an investment portfolio of over $160 million,” and that “the board of trustees passed a resolution unanimously” to divest from stocks in polluting industries. He said that it was advisory motion and that “it hasn’t happened yet.”
    González Yuen said this same group of students soon started asking him, “Why aren’t we learning more about environmental sustainability?” He said this led to students making a “proposal to the academic senate (of De Anza) to make studies in sustainability a graduation requirement.”
    González Yuen said that he hoped that sustainability could be incorporated “from stem to stern throughout the curriculum.” He said, “An environmental sustainability component should be built into the general education requirement, so that every class has to teach it.”
    González Yuen added, “That’s what we did at De Anza College with multiculturalism; every single class, [even if] it’s math or accounting, has to deal with multiculturalism.” He said, “I think we can do the same thing with environmental sustainability.”
    Rauzon gave the example that in a math class could do a study on “tons of carbon,” while in a culinary class “it could organic gardening.”
    Wilson asked Rauzon, who is on Peralta Chancellor José Ortiz’s committee on sustainability, if the idea of a similar requirement had been discussed for the Peralta District.
    Rauzon said, “This has come up time and again; the impediment is that you have to get every teacher to take time out of their curriculum to include a sustainability lesson.”
    He said sustainability needs to be made a requirement because many teachers have “wedded themselves to” their curriculums, and that “without that specific driver and force, most instructors won’t do that.”

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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