CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE : Campus Greens Party Taking Root

Members of the environmentally minded Greens are taking up popular causes and rounding up dedicated students on the state's college campuses, including Cal State Northridge, in an effort to make theirs the third largest political party in California.

Following in the footsteps of the Greens of West Germany, which started in the early 1980s, the CSUN Greens party was formed in 1990.

The party has since earned respect because of its efforts in preserving the campus orange groves and its protest against the 40% fee hike proposed for California State University students.

Such efforts are impressive because the group, which has about seven core members and 20 followers, has no defined leadership.

"The way we do things is different from other groups," said Fabio Escobar, a junior and one of the original founders of the CSUN Greens. "There is no head or leader. We all just work together and try to get things done."

During the effort to stop the university from replacing the campus orange trees with a parking lot, the Greens obtained about 900 student signatures on a petition that was presented to CSUN administrators.

Last month, Escobar traveled to Sacramento with more than 400 student signatures gathered by the Greens on petitions protesting the proposed fee hike.

Mindy Lorenz, 45, a CSUN art history professor and faculty adviser to the Greens, said the two efforts represent the main ideals behind the party--environmental preservation and social and economic injustice.

In November, Lorenz was part of a 15-member statewide committee that helped gain 100,000 signatures to place the Greens on the state party ballot.

Issues such as campaign reform, abortion, and senior and minority rights have added to the party's appeal, she said.

At CSUN, the party's strength is bolstered by students seeking a positive outlook.

"I think a lot of people have a lot of cynicism" about the environmental future and political corruption, Lorenz said.

So far, there are dozens of Greens chapters on campuses in California, including CSUN, UCLA, the Claremont Colleges and Stanford University. Nationwide, there are 150 campus chapters.

Lorenz said she believes student involvement and public interest in the Greens' goals will allow the party to increase its membership to 200,000 voters to surpass the American Independent Party--the state's third largest--by the end of 1992.

Lorenz has a personal reason to hope for the party's growth. She is running as a Green for a seat in the state's 22nd Congressional District.

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