This semester, Emma French PZ ’13 joined Pitzer College’s Ecology Center, one of many environmental organizations offered at the Claremont Colleges. French, however, soon recognized the need for a unifying force to coordinate activities between the various environmental groups.
“There’s a lot of people on each campus doing similar, wonderful work, and if we could combine our efforts and work together, we could maybe have a larger impact on the campuses as a whole,” French said. “I feel that intercollegiate cooperation could just be a huge asset to all of the colleges.”
To help facilitate this coordination between the colleges’ environmental organizations, French joined the new 5C Environmental Council and was elected secretary in the club’s recent elections. Members hope that this student organization will help jump-start joint environmental efforts across the colleges.
“It’s all about collaboration and using resources and ideas that we all have,” Council member and Pomona Farm representative Laura Haynes PO ’13 said. “I think there are a lot of groups that have for a long time been separate on the 5Cs, and so I think the goal is really to just bring them together.”
The Council’s chair, Lindon Pronto PZ ’12, said he hopes that the Council will promote communication between these different groups because representatives from the various environmental organizations form the base of the Council’s membership.
“[The Council] is basically designed to have the leaders or very active members from other environmental groups come together,” he said. “It brings these people together in order to provide a resource for the greater community of environmentally active groups.”
According to Pronto, the Council was started last year and helped to organize the 5C Environmental Conference during the spring 2011 semester. The Council was not a legitimate organization until Nov. 4 of this year, when Pronto submitted the necessary paperwork to register the Council as an official student organization.
“We just hope that having an official body that is recognized… means people give us a bigger profile and maybe a little more recognition,” said Hilary Haskell CM ’14, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Council and President of Students Promoting Environmental Action and Responsibility (SPEAR), a Claremont McKenna College (CMC) organization.
Pronto said that about 50 students so far have expressed interest in the Council, and about 25 have committed to active participation. These students will help to encourage communication between the 5Cs and organize events throughout the year. Haskell said that the club also aims to work with outside organizations like Sustainable Claremont, a local environmental education and advocacy group. Another of the club’s goals is to develop a community calendar for environmental events throughout Claremont in order to avoid overlap and miscommunication between groups.
Pending approval, Pronto said the Council will have a budget of about $6,300 per year. This money will be used to help bring speakers to campus, organize events such as the 5C Environmental Conference, and provide travel funds for students wishing to attend environmental conferences.
Pronto also said that the budget could provide limited funding to student projects at some of the colleges.
“Pomona has their Sustainability Integration Office, which can provide limited financial support to student projects; however, the other colleges don’t have that,” he said. “So we want to be able to provide financial support for initiatives.”
For the 11 organizations currently represented, the Council will also provide networking opportunities for individual organizations to reach a broader audience, in addition to more financial resources.
“One of our goals this year was to try to bring more people to the [Pomona College Organic] Farm and also collaborate with clubs that are doing gardening around the 5Cs,” Haynes said. “We really just want to get more into that community and expand who we can reach and expand what other groups we can collaborate with.”