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Davis, California

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Letters to the Editor

Maintain alternative housing

From their inception in the late 1800s, land-grant universities were supposed to represent the democratization of higher learning. Their responsibilities included creating new scientific knowledge and technology, providing common people with access to higher education and creating a curriculum to include skills and competencies in agriculture.

As a student at UC Davis, one of the country’s finest land-grant universities, I can first-handedly attest that my university has strayed from these principles-with an emphasis on the latter two. As fee hikes become just about as frequent as the squirrels and bicycles on this campus, receiving a degree from UC Davis is becoming much more exclusive to financially well-off students. Similarly, the campus’ narrow-minded definition of agricultural processes seems to be restrictive to only classroom experiences.

How can administrators at UC Davis stand idly as their inventive and alternative housing sites, the Tri Co-Ops and the Domes, crumble under Student Housing? Aside from a successful 40-year history on campus, these housing projects serve as a model and embodiment of the initial intentions of land-grant universities across the country. Both the Tri Co-Ops and the Domes foster environments for learning. They routinely hold political potlucks, concerts and educational workshops for the public. Their living quarters are affordable and aptly priced, thus a viable option for students of any socio-economic background to pursue their degree. Finally, these housing sites offer students a unique and intimate connection to nature. What better way to become versed in agricultural processes such as planting, harvesting and composting than living amongst it?

I do not live at the Domes or the Tri Co-Ops, yet I still find it appalling that UC Davis has taken such a passive and virtually non-existent approach in helping them. If this university wants to remain a powerhouse of knowledge, creativity, imagination and environmental consciousness, then it needs to keep these sustainable housing projects a vital part of its campus identity. Both the Tri Co-Ops and the Domes present infinite and exciting possibilities for incorporating research, community building and sustainable living at UC Davis. Together, these projects can take our campus to new levels of forward and innovative thinking, but only with the university’s support.


Junior, Latin and community and regional development

Treatment of Zochlinksi unsettles

I commend The Aggie on its coverage of Howard Zochlinski’s struggle! I have been a friend of Howard’s for many years, and his case is far more bizarre than can possibly be appreciated in the short space of a newspaper article.

All readers should know three things: First, the report that the university has spent into the seven-figure range to deny Howard his Ph.D. is accurate. Given that he was on the edge of earning his Ph.D., having completed sufficient high-quality research, that figure alone makes the case unsettling.

Second, I was present when the Faculty Senate voted in Howard’s favor, and the vote was not only overwhelming in terms of the count, but also the conviction of those present. All employees of UC Davis should be concerned about an administration that would thwart the faculty’s desire to undo an injustice by placing a well-qualified graduate student with a mentor who desired him, and had funding to support him.

Third, it must not be forgotten that Howard was a student, that he was denied the most basic forms of due process guaranteed students, and that illegal holds on his transcript prevented him from getting employment.

All students of UC Davis, graduate or undergraduate, should be concerned not only that Howard was treated this way long ago, but that the University can continue such practices today. Though it is only a small gesture in the scope of UC fund raising, I cannot in good conscious support my home campus while this continues, and I urge other Aggie readers to follow my lead.


Assistant professor of psychology

Pennsylvania State University

Thank you, harvesters

My name is Monica Sepulveda and I attend Cornerstone Baptist Church in Dixon. A few days ago while looking through ads on freecycle.com, I came across an ad for a free broccoli harvest at a field at UC Davis. I was very excited because our church had recently decided to start a food pantry and we are in need of donations of food to get us started.

The reason that I am writing this letter is because I wanted to tell someone how much we appreciate not only the food that was donated but the outpouring of concern and love that was shown that day from the UC Davis students who came to the harvest just to help pick the broccoli for the food banks. What wonderful people they were and a joy to spend time with. I was amazed by the community spirit that these young people had. They laughed and said that they were doing it for the free broccoli, but they worked hard and had smiles for everyone.

I’m sad to say that I don’t know any of their names, but I hope that somehow the word will get out that we at Cornerstone Baptist Church are extremely grateful for all of the people who made this broccoli harvest possible and I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to spend the day at UC Davis with some very kind students.


Let the dogs play

A sign just went up on the athletic fields along Russell Boulevard detailing policies and regulations for their use. One of them reads: “No pets are permitted on the fields.” These fields have been used for dog training, exercise and just plain play as long as they have existed. Apparently the architects of this policy have never heard of the Frisbee Dog, which is one of the greatest of American inventions. What happened — did some UCD bureaucrat step in poop? Rescind this ridiculous policy NOW!


Professor, evolution and ecology

“Ask EPPC” article misled

The Thursday Aggie (Jan. 20) included recommendations on how to embark on a low-carbon (footprint) diet. Aggie readers who are serious about reducing their carbon footprint should focus on critical carbon control points to reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2008, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the USA were 6,956.8 Tg CO2 equivalents (CO2 Eq). A teragram (Tg) is one million metric tons. The term CO2 equivalent is used to account for the global warming potential differences of the different ‘greenhouse gases’: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other minor gases.

As a proportion of all emissions, CO2 (one of the three major GHGs) is responsible for about 85 percent of CO2 Eq emissions in the U.S. fossil fuel combustion is responsible for 5,573 Tg CO2 Eq, or about 80 percent, of total CO2 Eq emissions. Electricity generation (2,363 Tg CO2 Eq) is by far the leading contributor to CO2 Eq emissions with coal being the primary culprit. Transportation (1,785 Tg CO2 Eq) contributes the next major source of CO2, and petroleum is responsible for nearly all of this. Fossil fuels, by definition, are ancient established (stranded) reservoirs of carbon residing deep within the earth. Combustion of fossil fuels relocates stranded carbon from the earth’s core into the earth’s atmosphere, which is the real carbon problem.

Methane emissions (also a GHG) contribute 8.2 percent of total Tg CO2 Eq emissions. Methane production from landfills, natural gas systems, coal mining, petroleum systems and other sources are more than double that from enteric fermentation from ruminants, as well as from management of their manure. Of animal agriculture generated CO2 Eq emissions, much results from digestion of plant material by the animals. As the carbons in their diet were recently removed from the atmosphere into plants by photosynthesis, their emission by ruminants does not introduce “new” carbon into the atmosphere.

Nitrous oxide emissions, the third major GHG, contribute 4.6 percent of Tg CO2 Eq with manure management only contributing about 0.23 percent of total emissions. All of US animal agriculture contributes about 3 percent of total CO2 Eq emissions.

Persons interested in curbing their carbon footprint could make a contribution to reduced emissions of CO2 Eq by using less energy from stranded carbon reserves (e.g., lower the household temperature in the winter, increase the household temperature in the summer, use fans in lieu of air conditioning, unplug electronics when not in use, bike, walk, carpool or use public transportation), reduce use of fossil fuel based products (e.g., plastics), manage daily caloric intake to meet daily needs (i.e., don’t get fat) and reduce waste (i.e., use things longer and don’t run out and buy new goods simply because they are available). Making a dent in energy consumption to reduce CO2 Eq emissions by 10 percent will remove more than double the CO2 Eq emitted by all of US animal agriculture.

To suggest that reduced consumption of beef and cheese will have an impact on reducing your carbon footprint is misleading. It will likely adversely impact the quality of your diet as meat and dairy products are concentrated sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, have very little impact on CO2 Eq emissions, and have no discernable impact on fossil fuel use, which is the real problem as it releases stranded carbon into the atmosphere.

The US EPA GHG Inventory 2010 Report is available at epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads10/US-GHG-Inventory-2010_Report.pdf .


Livestock waste management specialist

Department of Animal Science


Dairy cattle nutrition specialist

Department of Animal Science


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