FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2014
Contacts: Vanessa Raditz, 202 510 6861, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Rawlings, 415 215 5464, email@example.com
Gill Tract Farm issue reaches UC Regents, President
Campaigners call on Regents to halt the proposed development of the Gill Tract Farm and to instead engage in solutions to global warming and student family food insecurity in line with the UC’s stated goals
Sacramento, California. Gill Tract Farm coalition members and supporters joined students, unions, and communities from across California at today’s UC Board of Regents Meeting in Sacramento, highlighting the environmental justice impacts of the Gill Tract development and its links to climate change. By the end of the meeting, students secured a meeting with UC Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, and an ongoing dialogue with the Vice Chancellor of Real Estate, Robert LaLanne.
[Update 7/11/2014: Chancellor Dirks has still not met with the delegation, and Vice Chancellor LaLanne’s office has not yet met his promise to delegates to provide them with key documents regarding the revenue and allocation of funds from this proposed development]
A new UC Berkeley group, Students for Engaged and Active Learning, had released a petition earlier last month asking Berkeley’s Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, UC President Napolitano, and the UC Board of Regents to halt the proposed development and to engage in a collaborative design process for all twenty remaining acres of the Gill Tract Farm, in line with President Napolitano’s recent call for a Food Initiative for the UC and Climate Neutrality by 2025. The petition has gathered over 1330 signatures. The campaign has been endorsed by the Associated Students of the University of California, along with 19 other campus and community co-sponsoring organizations.
Students from the campaign and Albany community members joined Fossil Free UC, a co-sponsor on the petition, up in Sacramento, demanding that the UC divest from fossil fuels and make ethical investments in our future. Public comments were cut off after only half of the speakers list had been called. Mic checks and chants erupted, echoing through the convention center hall. After several minutes, the time for public comments was expanded, to cheers.
* “The Gill Tract Farm can be integrated in curriculums across departments,” said UC Berkeley student and former ASUC Sustainability Planning Coordinator, Helia Bidad, “Capital Projects is currently planning development on the Gill Tract Farm, but this plan is not visionary. Developing this land prevents it from being a world- renowned, grant-attractive, center for a food systems initiative and urban agriculture. In fact, it goes against all of the learned principles I read in my environmental studies textbooks.”
* “The development would be committing an environmental injustice against graduate student families who live right next to the farm,” said UC Berkeley alumna from the Social Welfare department, Effie Rawlings. “These families already suffer from high levels of air pollution, poverty and food insecurity.”
* “President Napolitano’s visionary Food Initiative needs a research space,” announced UC Berkeley graduate student Vanessa Raditz, “But instead of seizing the opportunity to improve student health and be global leader in solutions, Berkeley will be literally paving over our future, perpetuating our fossil-fueled trajectory to climate chaos.”
Long-time community advocate against the development, Jackie Hermes-Fletcher, gave the outgoing and incoming Student Regents, Cynthia Flores and Sadia Saifuddin, a tomato plant from the community-University partnership project currently underway on the 1.5 acres of the Gill Tract known as “Area A”. Both the Student Regents are very supportive of the campaign to expand this project to all twenty acres of the historic Gill Tract Farm.