It all started in 2001 when...

Students recognized that the University of California should come to value the natural environment. The first ever Blueprint opens, "civilization has arrived at a crucial juncture, wherein natural systems are in rapid decline."

The researched successful models for student organizing at other schools and adopted a structure similar to CU Boulder's Student Environmental Center. Their groundwork ultimately institutionalized sustainability at UCSanta Cruz.

SEC convened the first Earth Summit in 2002. They brought students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members together to discuss the state of sustainability at UC Santa Cruz. The first Blueprint for a Sustainable Campus was created in 2003 after Earth Summit, as an "action plan," developed through conversations at that Earth Summit

Afterwards, Earth Summit participants formed working groups, along with Chancellor's Sustainability Action Council (CSAC), which was designed to "help institutionalize and coordinate the ongoing efforts of the working groups." Working groups and CSAC were meant to pit conversations and goals identified at Earth Summit into action.  

Eventually, SEC organizer Aurora Winslade graduated and founded, with the support form students and administration, UC Santa Cruz's Sustainability Office. Working groups moved under the Sustainability Office.

SEC also worked to pass Ballot Measure 9, the Campus Sustainability Programs Fee in 2003. Students paid $3 every quarter. Campus Sustainability Council (CSC) formed to distribute funds collected by the fee to student organizations who were involved in creating "environmental sound practices on campus" through programs and events. Ballot Measure 14 raised the fee to $6 in 2005.

Until 2017, the SEC had 5 campaigns each year that focused on different topic of sustainability. During 2017, the organization decided to view sustainability and environmental justice through a more intersectional lense and focus on collaboration between members and implementing projects on campus that enacted real change.