Campus sophomore Nina Jhunjhnuwala announced Thursday night her intent to run as an independent senatorial candidate in the spring 2017 ASUC elections, with platforms related to environmental sustainability.
The Environmental Council, or ECO, at UC Berkeley endorsed her campaign to ensure a sustainable system on campus, to build a cohesive environmental campus community and to engage students on a local, state and national level. This is the first time that an ECO candidate has run an entire campaign on environmental awareness and conservation, according to Jhunjhnuwala.
Jhunjhnuwala has extensive experience working with both the ECO community and the ASUC. She worked in Senator Wes Adrianson’s office last year as part of his Renewable Energy Department and is currently Senator Rigel Robinson’s chief of staff. Jhunjhnuwala worked for the Helios Solar Committee, which is an ASUC body that helps bring solar energy to students, and is now the vice chair of ECO.
Jhunjhnuwala said she hopes to continue the work that previous ECO ASUC senators have begun. She added that the projects she would pursue, should she be elected, will ensure that sustainability progress will not be lost.
“We’re currently in a state where the current administration is … climate denying,” Jhunjhnuwala said. “A lot of our policies that are pro-environment are at a risk of being reversed, so I really want to engage students … to ensure that our progress isn’t erased and to ensure that more progressive environmental policies are set forth.”
Along with engaging students in large-scale policies, Jhunjhnuwala said she plans on facilitating communication between the administration and students regarding the campus’s goals of Zero Waste by 2020 and Carbon Neutrality by 2025. She also said she wants to increase awareness of the environmental organizations on campus and involve them with other communities that have a large campus presence, such as the Greek community.
ECO has regularly endorsed at least one candidate for the ASUC Senate. Last year’s candidate was current Senator Rigel Robinson, who ran with campus party CalSERVE. Robinson said he supports ECO’s independent status this election.
“Independence is a natural fit for our versatile community,” Robinson said in an email. “I ran with CalSERVE and I’m eternally glad I did, but I have also been strongly supportive of encouraging ECO to become a truly independent environmental powerhouse.”
Jhunjhnuwala said that running independently ensures that the sustainability community’s voice is being heard. She also said it will give the community something to build off of in the future if an ECO candidate ran as an independent again.
ECO chair and one of Jhunjhnuwala’s campaign managers Amanina Shofry said Jhunjhnuwala proved she was able to manage and mobilize many groups of people while she was chief of staff and vice chair. She stated that Jhunjhnuwala’s experience working with both the community and the ASUC make her valuable as a candidate.
“She’s been consistently in ECO ASUC offices for her entire time at Cal,” Shofry said. “I think that experience working with both the environmental community and the ASUC is really valuable because that’s what a senator does.”