It’s time for UC Davis administrators to proactively advocate and do whatever is possible to allow the Domes community to remain on site until a long-term plan has been developed.
Four years ago, I was a wide-eyed freshman, tutored by graduate student and Domes resident Chris Congleton as part of a transportation Action Research Team (ART) All those evenings spent huddled around the worn picnic tables under the trees and nights spent discussing Davis transportation systems in Dome #13 taught me that I could make a difference, that I had the ability to enact positive change.
Today, I am co-leading a student-taught class for other undergraduates. Last quarter, we visited the domes as part of our class to learn about sustainable living in the home. Brennan Bird gave a riveting presentation, utilizing the yurt, the yard space and his personal dome to educate our students about the power we have as individuals to make a positive change and that this positive change must begin within each of us, in our personal lives.
Talk about experiential learning! Normally our students leave class as soon as possible, but on this Thursday evening, they just did not want to leave, awestruck by the wonderful Domes community.
Throughout the last couple of years, I have talked to numerous Domes residents and administrators one-on-one regarding this situation. Every time, we had a great conversation and mutually agreed on the amazing benefits the Domes provide not only to students, but to the campus and community as a whole. Which is why it is frustrating that somehow, this individual admiration for the Domes community is lost in the culture of the university bureaucracy – what I like to call a “cycle of no.”
In this “cycle of no,” people routinely pass responsibility on to somebody else. Regardless of who is passing on responsibility, the end result is the same – “the University” can’t allow residents to renew their leases, despite the fact that individuals within the university are universally in support of the community and its residents. Contrary to the popular saying, in this case the whole is worse than the sum of its parts.
Around a month ago, the Solar Community Housing Association, a third party group similar to those who operate other on-campus housing such as the Colleges or Orchard Park, sent Student Housing a proposal to lease the Domes land. It would be easy to continue our current “cycle of no” and blame the UC Regents for not making the SCHA an easy solution. However, it also provides a great opportunity for us to reverse this cycle, and create a “cycle of yes.” Just as Brennan taught our class the power of positive change beginning in each one of us, we can find it within us to figure out how to say yes.
Don’t just do it for the current Domes residents. Do it for all of us who have been inspired by this pulsating heart of sustainable innovations. Do it for those of us who have benefited from the Davis Food Co-op, the Farmers Market or any of the numerous Davis institutions that began in the minds of Domes residents. Do it for those of us, like myself, who still have faith in UC Davis and its incredible staff to support student interests.
Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
Will it be worth it? Yes.
Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Board