Sustainability has been a cornerstone of the Sierra Nevada College mission ever since its first days as an established institution. The original core themes of alternative energy and environmental science have given way to the much wider discipline of sustainability, but as the school grows and finds new ways to be economically viable it has become the responsibility of the students, faculty and administration to realize our sustainable potential as well.
According to Adjunct Professor Brennan Lagasse there is an incredible potential for SNC in the realm of sustainable education.
“I think that this school has the ultimate opportunity to be the most, and I mean this, progressive institution with regards to its sustainability studies that there is, in terms of a small liberal arts private school, with 500 people, with cap that exists at 1,000, that is right on the shores of Lake Tahoe in one of the beautiful places in the world,” Lagasse said.
Lagasse recently returned from a class focused on holistic sustainability in the arctic, in which he and six SNC students experienced the lives of members of the Gwich’in tribe in Arctic Village, Alaska. According to Lagasse this class represents all of the positive possibilities for the future of sustainable education at SNC.
“What we did in Alaska, that’s it man,” Lagasse said. “I guarantee any liberal arts school, any progressive sustainability program, anybody that sees that and knows what’s up in the sustainability world would look at that and say ‘Wow that’s cool’.”
The new and vibrant Holman Arts & Media Center building is a representation of an expanding art department filled with ambition. With only two semesters of academia the Holman Arts & Media Center encourages a new era of creative, intellectual thinking with grand long term intentions of inspiring interdisciplinary programs and large communal goals. While the former David Hall building could not support the expanding art department and demand, the Holman building was set in place to achieve this growing need.
“We were basically at capacity with what we could do with the other building, the oldest building on campus. It had a lot of limitations with it. Getting this building and really maximizing the way we flow from one discipline to the other has enabled us to take the next step, which is to develop an MFA (Master of Fine Arts),” Professor Russell Dudley said.
The building was made possible by a generous gift from Robin and Robert Holman, and opened its doors to students in the spring semester of 2014.
“We envision that this center will be the new artistic and intellectual hub not just for Sierra Nevada College but for Incline Village and the Lake Tahoe basin. We looked around and saw the exciting things that are happening at Sierra Nevada College and we knew we wanted to partner with SNC to make change happen,” SNC Board of Trustees member and donor Robin Holman said.
The central ideas inspiring the design of the building were to create an academic flow within the space that also invites the public and the community into the academic practices, according to Dudley.
When entering the the Holman Arts & Media Center building, one can observe students working cohesively in all ranges of art. Students have the space to work on computers, photography, create sculptures and drawings. Art history lectures echo around the building. The new art building allows artists of all genres to share an inviting, inventive space.
“It’s nice to have an art building that is surrounded by all art students and the same creative process,” Senior Claire Bagg said.
The faculty and administration worked tirelessly for two years toward their unified vision of the Holman Arts building, according to Rick Parsons, associate professor of art.
I’d like to address my concerns regarding the building of a presidential residence on campus. I, along with many other students whom I’ve spoken to on this subject, have grave concerns regarding the impact of this project. These include the environmental impact on the proposed building site, the image of our college that such an endeavor will alter, the economic concerns regarding the use of donor funds, and the hypocritical nature of such a project as it goes against the core values of this school.
The project’s “focus on marketing and branding” [sic] has the potential to be a detriment to the students. This focus detracts from providing a better environment for the students, faculty, and staff to live, work, learn, and play. Rather than presenting an image of affluence and prestige, the energies spent on “marketing and branding” should involve creating actual affluence and prestige. There are several ways in which this generous donation can be used that do not involve a fancier place for faculty and Lakeshore Blvd. residents to party – “a president’s house on campus would be a place to easily host potential and current students, faculty, donors and visitors.”
A couple examples for better use of donor funds may include:
– Increasing budgets across all departments would help to provide for a better education for the students that are already here. This could take the form of better equipment and infrastructure, and/or more campus events (i.e. film festivals, Writers in the Woods candidates, etc).
– Increasing faculty salaries and creating more full time/tenured faculty positions. This would increase the level of educational expertise this school can provide, which in turn would improve this school’s image in the academic community.
Drought conditions are getting worse in California and Nevada as the summer comes to a close. According to the Drought Monitor report by U.S. agriculture and weather experts at least 58 percent of California is currently affected by the most severe drought seen in decades. Three months ago, only a quarter of the state was affected to this degree.
As the drought begins to affect more and more of California and Nevada, it feels as though Lake Tahoe is in a drought-free bubble. Where water is plentiful and residents are surrounded by lakes and rivers it is hard for the people living in the Tahoe Basin to understand the magnitude of the worst drought in recorded history.
Currently, planning and permitting is in action to build a residence on campus for Sierra Nevada College presidents by 2016. Funded by donors, a president’s house on campus would be a place to easily host potential and current students, faculty, donors and visitors.
With the high academic quality and growth mode in motion, President Lynn Gillette explained that the president’s house fits in with the school’s future.
“We are starting a major focus on marketing and branding,” Gillette said. “This is about the campus; it is not about the current president,”
If the plan goes as scheduled, construction will begin May of 2015. The project will take roughly 12 to 13 months, meaning completion sometime during the summer of 2016. The 1.2 million dollar project will be completely funded by an anonymous donor, with other donors possibly contributing. The house has been estimated to be 3,000 square feet.
Many students and faculty have been wondering why a house for the president is even in the master plan for the school, and some raise concerns over the proposed location, and loosing the demonstration garden.
Senior Rachel Blum, who will be graduating in December does not agree with the decision to build the house.
“Why would we build an exclusive house for the president when we could build a community space for the students or an amphitheater that could be used for outdoor classes, readings, or performing arts. I think that would be cheaper and more beneficial for the students,” Blum said.
With the admissions department involved in both the school’s branding and marketing,
Dean of Admissions, Steve Berry, points out the benefits of building a president’s house.
“I think it’s great for admissions in the sense that one of our biggest selling points right now is that our executive team, meaning our president and provost, still teach classes on campus,” Berry said.“They’re actively engaged within the campus community, they’re visible on campus.”
“Having the president’s house on campus will add more credibility to what we’re preaching to the students when they know our president lives on campus,” said Berry. “He’s accessible, he’s visible and he’s very student centered which is something we’re proud of here at SNC” Berry said.
Chair of the Interdisciplinary Committee Katie Zanto explains that having an active president living on campus will be good for the school and its students.
“I think that having a president on campus who is involved in campus events and is very involved with knowing the students and their interests will definitely benefit the school,” Zanto said.
One thing that has not yet been decided is the location of the house. Gillette shared that the board is still figuring out where the house will be built; this will depend on parking and utilities.
“There have been about four sites under review. We’re looking at how different sighting impacts the master plan, utility delivery to that site, parking availability to the site,” Gillette said.
According to Gillette another geographic aspect the board has been considering during the decision making process is, “keeping the residential core whole and the academic core whole.”
As the fall semester continues, the permits for the project may or may not be granted. If they are granted, a location will be decided on and building will begin. The four locations that have been proposed are shown below on the campus’s map.
As an incoming student at SNC, students must experience the dorms as an initial step in their higher education. With SNC’s largest incoming class arriving, many are questioning the residence hall policies.
“We have a total of 194 students in the dorms, one of the highest incoming classes. Last year we had around 180 which is only 10-15 more students this year,” said Lizzie Thibodeau.
While the increase of students is minimal, they have seen a large difference in the living situation among the dorms.
“What bothers me is that I requested a double (room) and they explained they were running out of space, and asked ‘do you think you could spare for a triple?’, just before school started. Therefore we involuntarily agreed and are working through the situation.” said Freshman Celine
For some students, this policy can be burdensome when trying to expand their horizons of Incline Village and Lake Tahoe area.
“The two year policy should be more of an option than a requirement. I think there should be a way you can prove that the second year is not necessary for an individual, rather than forcing it upon the students,” said Sophomore Nelly Steinhoff.
From 11 a.m. to roughly 5 p.m. there will be information booths from local nonprofits on Patterson Lawn, who will be providing knowledge and prizes with regards to an Eco Swap, reusable bags, seed cups, SNC Food Waste, swag from the L.N.T. Campaign and free local, organic, vegan and vegetarian treats!
It takes a lot of will power for me to bite my tongue when I see someone in Tahoe buying a single use plastic water bottle. Sometimes I can keep my opinion to myself, but as those of you who know me will understand, it’s really hard for me to do so.
It stills amazes me that I see people buying plastic water bottles around here. I understand – kind of – if you are out and about and you somehow forgot to bring your reusable water bottle, and you just had to buy that single use plastic water bottle. I get that. But why keep on buying single use plastic water bottles time and time again?