SRJC signs Talloires Declaration

Jerome Janairo, News Editor

SRJC president Dr. Robert Agrella signed the Talloires Declaration at this year’s SRJC celebration of Earth Day, committing the college to operate in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

April 20 was SRJC’s second Earth Day celebration, two days earlier than the worldwide observance of Earth Day. Outside the Bertolini Student Center booths representing local and student organizations as well as SRJC green programs were present.

Wendy Krupnick, an instructor for the Sustainable Agriculture program, said that her program’s presence on Earth Day is important. “Sustainable Agriculture is part of rejuvenating and empowering SRJC,” she said, adding that classes in sustainable living are always full. “There’s nothing greener than that.”

But the highlight of the day was Dr. Agrella signing the Talloires Declaration. The declaration is an international agreement among colleges and universities around the world in which participants promise to promote environmental education and sustainability.

“We’re very excited that they [the school administration] are willing and wanting to take a step towards greening the school,” Simone Burger of Students for Sustainable Communities said.

Members of Students for Sustainable Communities conducted a trash audit on March 8 to determine the composition of waste generated by Bertolini Student Center. The aim was to convince school administrators to sign the Talloires Declaration.

“The trash audit was the evidence we needed to say that there is a change that needs to be done and it was the evidence that the faculty and administration needed to see,” Burger said. “We were able to provide that and that was a big push towards the declaration getting signed today.”

SSC president Jessica Jones was active in promoting the declaration to the school administration. “The core value comes down to the fact that in order for students who are pushing for their colleges to be more sustainable, sustainability has to be recognized by the junior college,” she said. “It has to be stamped; it has to be of value.”

Jones then presented the panel of faculty and staff members who were instrumental to its signing: co-chair of Earth and Space Sciences Department Katie Gerber, Dean II of Arts, Humanities, Behavioral & Social Sciences Tyra Beniot, Dean III Facilities Planning & Operations Tony Ichsan and Dr. Agrella.

“As a faculty member and also as an environmental science instructor, I really applaud the work that SRJC has done towards environmental initiatives,” Gerber said, touting SRJC’s environmentally sensitive policies such as it’s decreased utility usage and “green architecture” in the newer buildings at the campus. “Signing on to the Talloires is a statement for SRJC that really formalizes out commitment to continue what we’re doing, but also provides us with a framework to expand what we’re doing.”

Dr. Agrella praised Jones and her efforts to get the administration to sign the declaration. “Jessica proved that we can come together and sustain ourselves in what we believe, and that we can work together in terms of a common denominator,” he said before signing the Talloires Declaration.

Burger said the declaration itself doesn’t specify actions SRJC must take to fulfill its promise of an environmentally sustainable campus. “There’s ambiguity. But hopefully they will be able to define it,” she said.

SRJC is fifth community college in California to sign the Talloires Declaration. Named after the French city where the original signatories gathered, the declaration’s decrees include establishing environmental educational programs, active promotion of sustainability to businesses, governments, and the public, and enacting environmentally friendly campus policies.