Sierra Nevada College’s master plan has been discussed in both of the Student Government Association (SGA) recent forums, yet some students are either unaware of it or do not understand it. When asked about the master plan in an informal survey, roughly 40 percent of students polled were unclear about what the master plan is. However, knowing what it is and why it is important will enlighten both students and faculty.
Sierra Nevada College is a considerably young school, founded in 1969 with a total enrollment of just 23 students. It took only four years for SNC to become an accredited school by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Since then, the school has received over five different accreditations both from state and regional commissions. Today, the school has over 500 undergraduates participating in 30 different degree programs and just under 500 graduate students. With student growth comes the need to expand classrooms, housing and facilities. This is where the master plan comes in.
What is the master plan?
The original master plan was developed between 1998 and 2000 and was most recently updated in 2011. This plan supports a possible population of 1,000 students on campus, both residents of dorms and full-time undergraduate students. These numbers also help to quantify how many offices, classrooms, dormitories and parking spaces are needed.
“We have to develop a master plan for TRPA (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency), that’s a legal requirement, before we can build any particular building or do any construction and the master plan has to do with the occupancy of the site, the level of development, how many square feet you can put on the site, the coverage, the parking requirements and of course it all has to work within the zoning criteria and TRPA,” said Jim Steinmann, a member of the Sierra Nevada College Board of Trustees. As the founder of Steinmann Facility Development Consultants (SFDC), he took on the role as the leading project manager for the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences.
“There have been break-ins in the cars a few times,” said Rick Garrecht, Sierra Nevada College security officer, “but I don’t think bear vandalism counts.”
While bears and excess snow can be blamed for most transgressions and damage on campus, SNC is not immune to campus crime or the complications that follow it.
“We live in Tahoe, which is generally a very safe place,” said Dean of Students Will Hoida. “With that said, things can happen here and occasionally they do.”
According to institution data submitted annually to the U.S. Department of Education, SNC has seen minimal violent offenses in the past three years, but an increase in liquor law violations and drug abuse violations.
“The college is pretty mellow,” said Deputy Paul Longshore, who has worked at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Incline Village for 17 years. “The really only trouble we have with those guys is drug use, underage drinking and DUIs. Usually we try to let the school handle their disciplinary issues.”
Students who commit disciplinary violations, through the guidelines of the student handbook, are faced with a series of disciplinary referrals that begin with an initial conference to hear their story, in their own words, said Hoida.
The assembly was supposed to convene at 10 a.m.. Caleb Harris, president of the United Veterans Legislative Council (UVLC) of Nevada, wears a pressed blue shirt and carries a thick black briefcase. A small green badge imprinted with the words “non-paid lobbyist” dangles from his breast pocket. He leads me through a set of large wooden doors and onto the assembly floor. It’s an hour after the intended start time, but the seats are still mostly empty. Assemblymen and women and senators shuffle across the chamber in black oxfords and high heels. A dozen separate conversations create a dull roar.
“I guess they haven’t started yet,” said Harris. “That’s not a good sign.”
Harris taps the shoulder of a tall, balding man in glasses and a white button up who is pivoting back and forth in his desk chair. The man is Assemblyman Randy Kirner, representative of District 26, a section of northwestern Nevada that makes up the better part of Washoe County. We had met a month earlier in the same building, at a UVLC sponsored Veteran’s Day in the Nevada legislature, attended by hundreds of local and state officials of organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Harris asks about Assembly Bill (AB) 294, a piece of legislation designed to mandate suicide prevention training for certain medical professionals. The UVLC has a particular attachment to this bill, as the suicide rate for veterans in Nevada hovers at a 74 percent higher rate than the national average.
Kirner picks up the daily agenda from his desk and glances over it.
“It’s on here,” Kirner says.
It is Tuesday, April 21, and it’s the last day that AB294 can be brought to a vote, before it “dies” in assembly. If the bill dies, it will disappear from the agenda entirely, and no vote will be taken.
Harris and I retreat to the back of the chamber floor, where three rows of stadium seating provide a place for spectators and media representatives to sit. We watch as Kirner crosses the aisle and begins to work the room.
“Just by being here, and reminding him, we could have made this bill,” says Harris.
It’s not hard to imagine that the bill could have slipped Kirner’s mind. The agenda for Tuesday’s legislative session includes a full 107 separate bills, all requiring action.
Harris explains the life cycle of a typical bill. After being introduced to the assembly or the senate, a bill will be assigned to a particular committee. In the case of AB294, it went straight to Commerce and Labor.
“I was surprised that it didn’t go to Health and Human services,” says Harris. “Because it involved care providers, I would have seen it go there instead.”
After a bill goes to committee, its fate lies in the hands of that committee’s chairman.
“If the chairman of that committee doesn’t bring it for discussion or vote, that bill will die in committee,” says Harris.
Despite his confidence in the bill, Harris explains that it met some resistance in committee.
Crutches, joint-braces, slings, casts, and bandages are a familiar sight on Sierra Nevada College’s campus due to its highly athletic student body. However, there are currently no student health facilities on campus except for a weekly Friday psychiatric service, and some student athletes are facing massive medical bills due to shortcomings in the school’s insurance policy.
Part of SNC’s appeal is the opportunity to pursue rigorous physical activities in a thriving culture of competition, or even an academic setting, as Outdoor Adventure Leadership students will attest. Additionally, during the 2015-16 school year, sport participation will expand by adding six more competitive teams.
These factors are making the issue of health care for students a greater priority for the college.
“We are a very hard school to insure,” said Lizzie Thibodeau, director of Student Affairs and Housing . “We’re small, and we’re high risk because of where we’re located and because of what we do.”
Some students participate in mixed martial arts. A better clue might be the fact that boards and skis are preferred over walking for many students, and the routes students travel take them over bike trails and up horizontal rock walls.
How does a private, four-year liberal arts university at Lake Tahoe take care of the health of its active campus population?
Being a student athlete is a lifestyle that consumes every aspect of a students life. Those who want to participate in college athletics should understand that they will be sacrificing many of the activities the average student experiences during his or her college career. For the past 24 years, the Sierra Nevada College ski team has won at least one United States Collegiate Ski Association National Champion title every season. Observers only see the success and hardware but not the work and sacrifices behind it.
Being part of a college sports team is almost like a full-time job. Often you start your day early and finish late. Freshmen Mihaela Kosi knows first hand what the day-to-day life of a student athlete is. Kosi moved thousands of miles from her home country Slovenia where she has lived her whole life. She came to the U.S. in the fall of 2014 to pursue her skiing career while earning a bachelors degree in Environmental Science from SNC. According to Kosi, one of the biggest adjustments was to learn to study in a foreign language while training and competing in skiing.
”I was really nervous in the beginning about studying in a foreign language,” Kosi said. ”First few months were the hardest but as I got used to the language, school got a lot easier. When it comes to training, it’s pretty much the same as it is at home, so there wasn’t too much adjustment there.”
Kosi mentioned that the team wakes up almost every morning before the sunrise.
”Our days usually begin at 6:45 a.m. with a gym practice in the fall,” Kosi said. ”During the winter, our trainings begin at 7:20 a.m. when the sun comes out. After our training is done around 9:15 a.m. we head back to campus to have breakfast and hurry to our classes. We do our second training independently after the school day is over.”
The team trains together for almost nine months, during summer the athletes are personally responsible for their trainings.
WEDNESDAY MAY 13 @ 7 p.m. PATTERSON HALL
Open to All.
TICKETS: $10 Adults | $5 Children | FREE to SNC Students and their families
THURSDAY, MAY 14 @ 4 p.m. PATTERSON LAWN
Open to all students, family members, alumni, faculty, and staff.
This annual event is a day to celebrate the end of the school year with Hawaiian food and beverages, volleyball, and live music.
FRIDAY, MAY 15 @ 9:30 a.m. PATTERSON HALL
Faculty and Staff present Student Departmental Awards for outstanding performance, and Students announce outstanding Faculty and Staff.
Graduates may invite guests.
FRIDAY, MAY 15
(immediately following Awards Ceremony) PATTERSON LAWN
MANDATORY for undergrads; optional for graduate students.
This rehearsal will help ensure the big day is a success!
FRIDAY, MAY 15 @ 12:30 p.m. INCLINE BEACH
Open to all students, family members, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Come to the beach for a fun afternoon following Commencement Rehearsal for food, fun, friends, and volleyball.
SATURDAY, MAY 16 @ 10 a.m. PATTERSON LAWN
NOTE: Graduates report to TCES 139/141 @ 9 a.m. Please attend this important milestone event early to prepare for your final goodbye!
By Rachel Lightner
With temperatures heating up and summer rapidly approaching, Sierra Nevada College is nearing the end the 2014-2015 school year. For seniors, this marks the final year of their college career. They have been working hard to meet all of their requirements for graduation, aiming to enter the world with a college degree under their belts. Seniors are about to begin a new chapter of their life, all with the hope of pursuing a career path in their area of expertise.
Logan Garrison from Aspen, Colorado is getting his English degree. He plans to keep up his writing expertise and further his career within the music industry, writing and producing music.
“I want keep immersing myself in music via writing, and hope to get a job working for a publisher for an artist or anything that allows me to stay in the music scene,” Garrison said.
He plans on eventually moving to Denver, Colorado to experience the city life and expand his opportunities by being surrounded by music in a big city.
Fellow classmate and friend of Garrison from Aspen, Peter Rispoli, is majoring in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Entrepreneurship.
“It’s awesome that SNC has the ODAL program available, it gives outdoorsy students like me a reason to be stoked on what I am studying,” Rispoli said.
He plans on taking his Outdoor Adventure Leadership major and turning it into a job opportunity that he truly loves, becoming either a backpack or rafting guide.
Before pursuing a career, he hopes to travel the world as much as possible, starting by going on the South Africa trip with the school in mid May.
An avid snowboarder and Ski Business Management Major, Austin Ford, commented on his overall experience in Tahoe.
“Being able to live in Tahoe and snowboard all the time while getting a degree was absolutely the best part about it,” Ford said.
Ford is another student with plans of traveling on his agenda. He hopes to enrich his cultural experiences by traveling to Costa Rica, Fiji, or Indonesia to surf. As far as pursuing his major as a Ski Business graduate, he plans on starting a nonprofit snowboard contest locally, and hopes to eventually expand it to the entire snowboarding community.
Michael Ballew, who just presented his BFA art exhibit, is planning on continuing school past SNC. He wants remain in Tahoe for a year to work on his art resume more and keep sculpting pieces, making sure he has enough work to qualify him into the graduate schools he wishes to attend. He is considering Cranbrook Academy of Art in Minnesota, which offers a fantastic ceramics program.
“SNC has provided me with a great environment for my ceramics work. It has been awesome spending my last year here in the new Holman Arts building,” Ballew said.
By Nelly Steinhoff, Sage Sauerbrey and Nick Galantowicz
NV Energy is in the process of making cut backs on solar energy incentives, at the same time the overall solar movement in Nevada is growing faster than ever.
NV Energy powers an area covering 45,592 square miles and has been servicing energy to Nevadans since 1906.
Although applications to NV Energy’s Solar Generations program have grown exponentially in the last year, NV Energy is fighting to hold a cap of 3 percent on all electricity users who can receive payments for producing surplus electricity.
“They would pay us for generating hot water at the same rate they paid for electricity, which is about 10.5 or 11 cents per kilowatt hour,” said Ben Solomon, founding SNC president and solar power advocate. “They dropped the entire program.”
Solomon, who would sometimes make over $350 a year from surplus solar energy systems, is one of the many small solar operations that have been kept out of the market because of the cap. He designed and built solar and water heating systems at his private residence in Incline Village.
Solomon said NV Energy is operating a “monopoly” on alternative energy in Nevada, and he is not the only person to share that opinion.
“Their goal is to eliminate solar rooftop competition,” said Bryan Miller, co-chair of the Alliance for Solar Choice, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review. “NV Energy and its owner, Berkshire Hathaway, has been on a national agenda to eliminate solar net metering by individuals. It’s a jobs cap.”
The cap predominantly affects independent homeowners such as Solomon, but it is targeted at larger operations that threaten NV Energy’s stake in the solar market. Companies like American Patriot and Solar Electric will no longer be able to operate in Nevada due to the cap, a repercussion that will cost approximately 2,000 jobs. This is out of the 6,000 jobs currently tied to the solar market in Nevada, the third largest in the US.
One company, SolarCity, received a $1.2 million grant from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development to weather the cap and create 1,000 jobs in the Las Vegas area.
In spite of the cap on extra energy payments, solar is still a cost-beneficial and environmentally rewarding means of energy production for many homeowners.
According to the National Resources Defense Council’s website, “Solar panels will be cheaper and more efficient thanks to cheaper raw materials, improved production methods, more engagement from utility companies, and bold government programs like the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative. Financial analysts and industry experts expect the cost of solar power to fall below retail electricity rates in much of the country between 2013 and 2018.”
Solar power producers can also still receive credit for the extra energy they produce. According to Bret Alexander, Co-Owner of Tahoe Solar Designs, NV Energy is required by law to keep a net-metering system which tracks the amount of solar energy produced in a home.
“When the sun is out and shining these PV systems are then able to cover any of the loads that are running at that home,” Alexander said. “If there is an excess, that extra electricity is back-fed onto the grid and essentially runs the meter backwards which is then credited to the customer.”
The NV Energy website also touts the solar energy benefits for the environment on their website, which states, “A one kilowatt solar system will prevent approximately 170 pounds of coal from being burned, 300 pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, and 105 gallons of water from being consumed each month.”
Although NV Energy is cutting back on economic incentives for solar power, the growing environmental movement might offset the cut backs. According to a poll by solar power producer SolarCity, the newer generation is becoming more concerned with reducing their environmental impact and less concerned with costs than the older generations.
According to the poll, the percentage of baby boomers who purchase clean energy to save money was 80 percent, while 27 percent purchase to reduce their impact. Alternatively, the percentage of millennials who make clean energy purchases was 74 percent to save money versus 38 percent to reduce impact.
The current jump to solar power has occurred, in part, because of the shrinking incentives offered by NV Energy as well as the approaching end of a federal tax credit for solar installations.
“Currently there is a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the installed cost of a system,” Alexander said. “This tax credit is set to expire in 2016.”
This article was written by authors for a final project in Society, Environment, and Media. NV was not available for comment.