Anna Whitney speaks for more than just the trees

Last spring, Anna Whitney was elected as an independent senator to serve in the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). She ran on an environmental focused platform, carrying on the legacy of an unofficial environmental senator position which is also known as the eco-senator. Now that the first semester of Anna Whitney’s senator term is coming to a close, she sat down with the Leaflet to talk about her experience as the eco-senator.

Photo of Senator Anna Whitney and office staff member Kiana Kazemi

Since being elected, Anna Whitney and her office have been hard at work. From pioneering textbook reuse to working with CALPIRG to get UC Berkeley committed to using 100% renewable energy to bringing sharing scooter companies to campus in ways that benefits students, Anna’s team has their hands in many different projects on and around campus. For instance, you might have even seen them tabling on Sproul in the weeks up to the midterm elections in November encouraging people to register to vote and get more involved with both local and state politics.

A team from Anna’s office is currently in the planning stages of a basic needs sharing program, Bears Share, which will lend out household items to UC Berkeley students in its trial phase starting next semester. These items will include irons, DSLR cameras, vacuums, and more! For Anna, a project like Bears Share is the kind of place where she can help expand the Berkeley community’s understanding of the environment.

Anna strives to make an impact for the entire UC Berkeley community. To Anna, environmentalism means to “promote the public health of people and living things so that we can have a livable environment.” Thus Anna’s project goals reach beyond just reducing the environmental impacts of the UC Berkeley campus. As a team, Anna’s office wants to “do better for everyone, [by cultivating] a humanistic perception of environmentalism that is different from old-school environmentalism, connecting it to student life.”

This progressive view on the environment has pushed Anna to work with the larger ASUC Senate to help make changes to student life. Current inter-senate projects include a pilot space sharing program for registered student organizations and proposing revisions to late course change policies. To Anna, her ability to access resources and understanding of problems make it “hard not to try to tackle the issues.”

Anna’s platforms, as illustrated by Kelly Chang

As the eco-senator, Anna has felt supported by environment focused student organizations, her office staff, and even other ASUC senators. ASUC Senator Justin Greenwald has been working on sustainability in Greek Life by exploring options that would reduce waste generated from Greek Life activities. As a champion of environmental issues, Anna is glad that other senators have also incorporated sustainability into their offices.

With a one year timeline, Anna Whitney has learned to roll with the punches of bureaucracy but remains hopeful and excited for the work of her office and the environmental community in the coming semester. If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about the incredible projects that Anna Whitney’s office is working on, do not hesitate to reach out to her at awhitney@asuc.org.

When asked for final thoughts, Anna wanted to thank the community that has supported her. “I am the face that speaks words but the true work comes out of the departments and student organizations and I guess I want to thank them for doing all this work with me.”

Sarah Xu

Sarah Xu is a second year Environmental Economics and Policy major and Global Poverty and Practice minor. She is passionate about global environmental governance. At UC Berkeley, Sarah has been involved with programs on campus like ReUSE our on-campus thrift store, the Global Environment Theme House, and Berkeley Model United Nations. In her free time, Sarah enjoys over-caffeinating and getting lost on public transportation. Sarah Xu covers international environmental governance and policy.

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