A.S. Focuses on Sustainability

The Associated Students tackled some of the core values that they decided to focus on this semester, such as homelessness and sustainability during their meeting on Monday, October 8. A.S. is planning a variety of events for Sustainability Week, and discussed new innovative initiatives to provide more resources for homeless students at Santa Monica College.

Kimberly Hernandez, Director of Student Assistance, spoke at the meeting about an idea that she’s working on to bring to SMC, called Safe Parking. The idea behind the Safe Parking program is that students attending SMC who are living in their cars would have a parking spot available to them at SMC after hours. Hernandez explained, “It’s basically night parking that allows people who are currently living in their cars to park there and to basically have a safe place and not be scared of getting tickets or trying to hide, because it’s illegal.”

“The A.S. board wanted to make it our mission to really tackle down [on] the homeless situation in our school,” Hernandez continued. Since the board is still in the logistics stage of this program, they’ve been in conversation with faculty and officials from similar programs already in place in Los Angeles to optimize their ideas.

Addressing issues of exclusivity in program participation, Hernandez said, “They would also need to have a certain amount of units, so not just anyone can park here, as well as speak with the counselors, because we also want to help them get back on their feet, not just give them the spot and let them stay.”

Hernandez went on to explain A.S.’s  commitment to answering questions and concerns about the project as, “they see it as only small barriers that we can easily get through. So we think it’s very possible.”

Despite being elected to the position of Sustainability Director only two weeks ago, Brooke Harrington has already spearheaded efforts to promote environmentally sustainable practices. A clear example of this is her involvement in organizing this year’s Sustainability Week, which starts on October 22.

The main goals of the A.S. board center around combating food insecurity and homelessness among students, as well as getting students more civically engaged. Harrington wants to also push for more focus on promoting environmentalism.

“The board’s goals are [addressing] homelessness, food insecurity, and student [engagement] - I have been working with that and I also want to implement campus wide composting. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that as a school we have compostable utensils and takeout wear and food that just goes in landfills. Most people don’t realize how big of a problem food waste is in our landfill system,” said Harrington.

During Sustainability Week, SMC will host a plethora of games, activities, and even public speakers, with the aim of promoting environmentally sustainable practices among the student population. “That Monday, we are gonna be having a DIY-themed day, we are trying to have non-gendered personal care products, like toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, chapstick and air freshener. You can use it in your bathroom, or you can use it as a perfume,” said Harrington.

On Tuesday, SMC students can play oversized three-dimensional games of tic-tac-toe and cornhole, with the aim of also incorporating information about the environment. The next day, Club Rose, a club that promotes gardening on campus, is inviting a speaker to talk about urban foraging. Harrington plans on delivering a presentation on the benefits of composting food.

Harrington’s outlook on sustainability heavily influenced A.S.’s finances in relation to this event. “As you’ll see in the proposal,” Harrington explains during the meeting, “the cost of Sustainability Week this year is far less than previous years.” With a notable difference of $3,500 in this year’s costs, Harrington impressed her fellow A.S. members with her mindful organization, who praised her work.

“I think the definition of sustainability is providing the means to live for the present generations, while sustaining the planet for generations to come,” Harrington adds, “So for me, sustainability is living consciously and trying to reduce your carbon footprint in anyway that you can, whether it’s transportation, or not eating meat, or reducing your dairy intake, or composting, or gardening, or doing activities that raise your awareness of all these different problems.”

By dramatically decreasing the expected financial cost of this year’s Sustainability Week events, and remaining open to new ideas and programs, the A.S. will continue to work on student focused projects at SMC in the months to come.