Advisory measure with focus on climate neutrality passes


A group of students worked this spring to call for more attention to the issue of climate change around campus. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Students have voted this week in favor of an advisory measure calling for Chico State to reaffirm its commitment to climate change, in light of a recent building project designed to replace Siskiyou Hall.

This measure, placed on the 2018 Associated Students ballot, asked for the university to reaffirm its 2007 commitment to climate neutrality and earned 3,039 affirmative votes.

Students made signs to bring awareness to the measure around campus. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson
Notes placed Butte Hall to call attention to the measure. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Mark Stemen, a professor in the Geology and Planning Department who teaches the class which introduces advisory measures, said he was very pleased with the efforts of his students towards this measure’s success. “They overcame incredible adversity and they stayed positive, and they stayed friends.”

“What “yes” means on this measure,” said Stemen, “is that students recognize the dangers of climate change and want to see the university take leadership on the issue.”

Ethan Dilley lent his efforts to the campaign for the spring 2018 advisory measure in Mark Stemen's class. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Student Ethan Dilley, a student from Stemen’s class who put in extensive efforts towards the passing of the measure, agreed that the vote of “yes” affirms student agreement that the university “…pushed our commitment towards climate neutrality to the side and it is clear that other students feel the same way,” he said. “And it is not to say that the university is doing nothing, but that they could be doing more.”

“If you believe in changing something, then you begin the process and not wait for others to do it,” said Dilley of what students can do in the future. “It requires a lot of work from a lot of people, but it is one of the best ways that you can have your voice heard.”

He added that there was a lot of opposition by the university towards the advisory’s content. “The VPs for the school felt that what we were doing was wrong,” said Dilley, “and so did the Dean for Natural Science. It became very stressful at times, but the way the vote went, it is clear that other students feel the same way as we do.”

Natalie Kinney, another student who worked firsthand on the campaign, said she felt it reflected that “no matter what obstacles came along the way, it was still a good campaign and we were able to spread the word.”

Natalie Kinney said she hopes that the passed advisory will encourage more change and discussion of climate change on campus. Photo credit: Natalie Hanson

Kinney, a senior, also said that she hopes administrators will take note of student voices. “86% wanted it,” she said. “We are the power. If nobody shows up to school, if nobody enrolls…then there is no money…they should hear our voices and understand where we’re coming from. They may not be here for future generations, but students want to be here and they want to live in an environment that is suitable, and why not be ahead of the curve?”

Kinney said she hopes the measure leads to efforts by the university for change, and to a better understanding of climate change and climate neutrality. “We are not just a campus, we are connected to a bigger community as well,” she said, “and we need to make sure we are working for the community and for the environment.”

Although hopeful, both Dilley and Kinney expressed concern for the university’s addressing of its commitment towards reaching climate neutrality. Kinney mentioned her hope that this commitment would be applied to the current science building project, dubbed Siskiyou II.

After the election, a letter from President Gayle E. Hutchinson was emailed to all students addressing this issue. In the letter, Hutchinson stated that she officially acknowledged the ballot measure and affirmed her agreement to all of its parts.

“We have applied the principles of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment throughout the design process for the new science building,” stated Hutchinson, “and we will continue to do so as we build and begin to use it.”

Hutchinson also acknowledged Stemen’s students’ efforts and call for a delay in construction, stating that “delaying the new building will both cost millions of dollars and will result in increased carbon emissions.”

“I cannot support a delay that will be both costly and environmentally harmful,” Hutchinson stated, “and so we will proceed with the building as scheduled. In addition, we are just now embarking on an 18-month long campus master plan renewal.”

In closing, the president said that the new science building was being misrepresented as an “energy hog” and invited students to help the university work on the “master plan.”

In response to this email, Stemen reached out to The Orion for further comment. Look out for our story on the climate task force and plan renewal next here at

Natalie Hanson can be reached at news [email protected] or @NatalieH_Orion on Twitter.