Students Making a Difference

Joel Marchesoni, Jenni Giles, Sarah Hipp, Kristi Whitehead and myself founded the WCU Green Party, formally the WCU Campus Greens, in spring of 2007. We sprang from all of ours desire to have another political party available on campus.

Our “coming out” was the Wellness Fair that semester where we worked on informing folks about the Green Party and how it is working on better health for all of us; petitioning for ballot access. We had our anniversary this year by participating in the Wellness Fair again. Our first goal was to reclaim the Woodland, which is our Historic, outdoor amphitheater between Moore and Madison, for all of us to be able to use. It is across from the Old Student Union and was the old version of the UC Lawn before the building of the Hinds UC. The Woodland was where everything happened from pep-rallies to concerts, Maydays festivals and ceremonies. Now it sits without even a sign to point it out, nor any denotation on the campus map. How sad this is! While the UC lawn is currently being invaded by construction (and therefore not as user friendly), the Woodland sits silently, patiently waiting for someone to present a play on its 1,400 square foot stage with towering evergreen trees as a backdrop, inviting musicians to concert and us all to sit and relax on the grass, or simply to toss a Frisbee. The Woodland has an old transformer box behind the stage, so it was once an electric, lively and enjoyable spot on campus allowing for all kinds of entertainment, and it can one day be that again. With over an acre of uninterrupted green space (it is the only place on campus like this that is not a sporting field), a beautiful stone retaining wall and a quaint bridge going from lawn to stage, there is ample room for varied uses. Though ADA Coordinator for Western, Lance Alexis, visited the Woodland with us, and stated that it is ADA compliant, the administration persists to refute this. We need student help in restoring this green space. Particularly we need help from individuals with disabilities. We need to establish that the Woodland offers reasonable visual and audible access and an enjoyable atmosphere for all. If anyone is interested please contact the WCU Greens at We participate in the Tuck cleanups. Our greatest success, and our most recent, is the pressure we put on Aramark, our food supplier. The Greens were setting up an onsite protest at the cafeteria in order to show that the students desire more organic food choices, more vegetarian and vegan options, as well as less fatty and less sugary enhanced menu items. Just talking about this made its way to the representative for Aramark for WCU, and last I heard we are going to have organic foods offered for the FIRST time EVER here, and one more consistent vegetarian option in the dining hall! GO, go WCU Greens! We showed, as our last event last semester, The Corporation in the UC Theater and provided organic and local finger foods during intermission. We also participated in the first ever three party debate at WCU with the Dems and Repubs last semester. Many students approached us after that debate saying that they agreed with a lot we said and were so happy to finally here people say things that neither the D nor R are talking about. We also orchestrated a petition to protect Teshekpuk, which is an extremely vast preserve in Alaska. We collected over 400 signatures to protect that area from the Bush administrations misguided attempts to keep the country dependent on oil.

Personally I hope that the Green Party is able to get on the ballot for 2012 in NC. This is uncompromisingly important! Without the ability to vote for the national, established party you agree with, you are cut off from participating in the fairly poor system of democracy we have, therefore you have very little capacity to change it for the better. Currently the NC Green Party is involved in two lawsuits against the State in order to establish legal dialog about whether the current law is legal or not according to the constitution. Normally I do not support litigation, however I do feel this is needed because without knowing how to change something, without having the written description of what it is you are fighting, you cannot fight it. I personally feel that this battle alone shows the extreme lack of political freedom in this country. On campus I believe that we can be very instrumental in helping students to see that the way things are is not the way they have to be! We are focused on the realization that each one of us is powerful, and worthy of honesty and reciprocity. We believe in self-responsibility for many reasons including because the realization that one is responsible is equitable with understanding that you can change it. If you know that you have a hand in creating such, then you can change such. Self-responsibility equals self-efficacy! I really hope that this group can help students become more powerful, more knowledgeable, and therefore better citizens and stronger Americans, which is exactly what a University is challenged to do anyways. Corporations have subdued us along with government bodies that wish us to not act, to not believe that we have self-worth. This is the only way that you will trade your self-autonomy for all the new versions of slavery, if you do not believe you have any.

Our current goals: To reclaim the Woodland for all students and surrounding citizens to use as a venue; to increase awareness of the Green Party and its radical alternatives to the Democrat and Republican dogmas; better food on campus for students, staff and faculty; a more open dialog on campus concerning all aspects of society for students; crosswalks on Old Cullowhee Road and Speedwell; better building practices by the University (currently there is no use of passive nor active solar power, wind power, updraft cooling ability, geo-thermal heating, rain water collection, gray water use for flushing toilets, etc.; University provided transportation into and out of Sylva, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until 2:30am; better recycling practices (we have been working with the EcoCats); more areas to relax in the beauty of the mountains on campus; a more biker friendly campus. All students are invited to come out and be a part of making positive progressions at WCU with the Greens.

Our meetings are not set at this time. We work to accommodate everyone’s changing schedule. The best course is to send us an email.