Space Allocated to SERC for Center on UC Berkeley Campus

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“I will be a Hummingbird. I will do the best I can.”- Wangari Maathai


On Wednesday April 27, 2016, the Student Environmental Resource Center’s (SERC) dream of a physical center on the UC Berkeley campus became its future. The ASUC Senate approved an allocation of 1350 sq. ft for SERC space in the MLK Jr. Student Union Basement through the year 2050. (The space is expected to open by 2018 after construction is completed.) Space for SERC has been the focus since its founding in 2012 by students Mauricio Castillo, Nolan Pack, and Noah Puni, who transferred to UC Berkeley and developed a vision for an innovation and resource center for the student environmental and sustainability community. Now, that vision is a reality, and the Center will be a place for our community to combine imagination and intellect, values and passion, all towards growing a world that is more sustainable, just, equitable, healthy and resilient for all.

The beauty and strength in our community is that it has always existed for the whole, recognizing the whole is greater than its individual parts, and that the whole includes future people who we may never even know personally. Space for SERC would not have been possible without fate bringing us four years of student, staff, faculty, and community member supporters, each playing some critical role to getting us closer and closer to a space. From our aforementioned founders, to the 2013-2016 SERC student staff: Katie Hoffman, Roberta Giordano, Zen Trenholm, Omead Kohanteb, Justine Rembac, Louis Spanias, Magnolia Barrett, Hanna Morris, Phoebe Song, Angela Meese Shen, Angie Shen, Sam Klein, Qusai Bhaijeewala, Kristen Chen, Regina Clincy, Stella Kim, Manon von Kaenel, Jeff Noven, Angie Shen, Hanna Morris, Morgan Stelly, Claire Kaufman, Kareem Hammoud, Shannon Davis, Caitriona Smyth, Nick Burkett, Ryan Avery, Anna Yip, Gary Richmond, Jimmy Dunn, Lauren Murphy, Tara Singh, Eva Malis, Brooke Maushund, Pallavi Sherikar, Andrew Huang, Brian Gialketsis, and Scott Silva. To say these student leaders are superstars, the heart and soul of SERC, the reason for SERC’s success and my daily inspiration, would still be an understatement.

To our incredible ASUC Senate representationNolan Pack putting us on the map and helping us secure an annual budget and home within the ASUC Student Union; Haley Broder advocating for us at ASUC Senate and to students, helping us gain trust, traction, and partnerships within our own community, and partnering with us on campaigns and programs as we found our mission and purpose; and Wes Adrianson, from serving as primary proponent for The Green Initiative Fund, ensuring our greatest initiative would continue to serve and empower students for another 10 years, to strategizing, representing, and counseling us through the entire space application process this year, and helping us share our vision with the ASUC Senate- we thank you. To our new ASUC Senator Rigel Robinson, we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Our deepest gratitude is extended to ASUC EVP Lavanya Jawaharlal, and the Committee on MLK Jr. Student Union Building, for successfully leading the space allocation process and creating a legacy for students. To navigate and manage such a political and challenging process takes courage, brilliance, and grit. Quite frankly, these MLK spaces will change the lives of many students (and staff!) and that is something to truly celebrate and take pride in as a legacy. Additional thanks must be given to the 2015-2016 Execs Yordanos Dejen, Marium Navid, and Melissa Hsu, and the 2015-2016 ASUC Senators for your unwavering support and encouragement of SERC. Just having you all believe in us served as our touchstone for knowing how to best serve and support students at UC Berkeley.

Our community whole is also made up of the many campus and community departments and groups who have partnered with us, mentored us, and collaborated with us on events, programs, and initiatives. To the Office of Sustainability & Energy, Cal Dining, EH&S, Cal Zero Waste, Berkeley Food Institute, MCC, Career Center, RSSP, GenEQ, CACS, UCOP Sustainability, Facilities and Grounds, Environmental Planning, Recreational Sports Facility, BECI, Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, GRID Alternatives, etc.- we thank you.

We owe our most heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and the College of Natural Resources for being one of the first campus supporters to truly believe in and support SERC since its founding. ESPM generously provided SERC a meeting and office space in 337 Mulford Hall since 2013, a space used by SERC to develop its mission, objectives, and staff structure, and to hold weekly team meetings for growing programs and team collaboration.

To our ASUC Student Union family– thank you for offering us a university home to transition from student project to a Center, for supporting us, being our biggest cheerleaders, advising us, marketing and designing us, and advocating for us in so many spaces outside our reach. You gave us the incubator resources to grow and get to where we are today. You have championed our place on this campus and within your Student Union vision.

To our other most important family, the environmental and sustainability student orgs and student leaders: You give us purpose. You give us hope and direction. You have supported us when we needed partnerships, or volunteers, or TGIF to renew. You have trusted us and come to us for advice and resources, which is the greatest compliment you could ever give us. Thank you for believing in SERC, for wanting it to get space, and for wanting to make your organization’s home within that space.

Lastly, I couldn’t dream of sharing this moment with a better colleague, friend, and partner-in-sustainability, than Sharon Daraphonhdeth. Thank you for joining the SERC Team, for being the calm to my not-so-calm, and co-leading our vision to reality.

I’ll end with my favorite quote from Muppets and Sesame Street creator, Jim Henson:

“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”

Thank you, all, for helping me live out the essence of this quote every day in partnership with you, and here’s to all those who will benefit from the SERC space over the next 35 years.

Best regards,

Katherine Walsh
SERC Director

Katherine Walsh

Katherine Walsh is the Director of the Student Environmental Resource Center at UC Berkeley.

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