Two members of the Campus Committee on Environmental Responsibility addressed the Plattsburgh State College Council at their regular February meeting Feb. 10, outlining CCER’s goals, the process of creating new projects and the result of completed projects.
The student co-chair of CCER, sophomore Aaron Baltich-Schecter, and PSUC Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Curt Gervich stressed to the Council the importance of enhancing environmental standards at the college and engaging in more projects that will reduce the impact that the institution has on the environment.
“Our goal was to open up a dialogue on long-term policy that gives us some sort of goal,” Baltich-Schecter said.
CCER is a presidential committee that was created by PSUC President John Ettling and a handful of students in 2009 and consists of up to 15 members, including a student and faculty chair appointed by Ettling and three students at large chosen by the PSUC Student Association president. It was created to handle Green Fee funds, further environmental awareness and serve as a platform for launching new green projects.
Additionally, CCER critiques the college’s environmental impact and offers suggestions as to how it could be minimized.
“We’re using more energy, more water, more paper and more fuel than we need to be, but we’re also using more money than we need to be,” Gervich said at the meeting.
CCER also has the means to fund new green projects on campus.
In order to apply for funding, CCER requires a Green Grant Application sheet to be submitted describing the purpose of the project, a detailed budget, the estimated length of completion and how the project will positively impact the college, among other things.
Following the application submission, a presentation of the idea must be given to the Grant Application Review Sub-Committee and then to all of the members of CCER. The club typically handles three to four projects per semester, and the budget usually ranges from $500 to $8,000, depending on the extent of the project. The committee meets approximately three times a semester to discuss potential and current projects.
CCER has been the source of funding for several completed and ongoing projects, including allotting $8,000 for a biodiesel refinery, which covered the cost of the converter and the chemical safety equipment.
The committee was also responsible for funding the campus compositing program, granting $3,200 for containers and wages, and for the campus garden, which the committee provided $3,500 dollars for tools and supplies. Food from the garden is often donated to food pantries or used in dining halls.
Gervich also pointed to environmental responsibility as a significant factor that potential students consider when they are choosing a college.
According to a survey published in the Princeton Review in 2014, 61 percent of students and 60 percent of parents said if they had a way to compare schools based on their commitment to environmental issues, it would impact their final decision.
Following CCER’s presentation, the Council approved a motion to recognize former Student Association President Priscilla Burke for her outstanding service as a member of the committee. Current SA President Kevin Clayton was in attendance and did the honors of officially seconding the motion for Burke’s recognition.
Over the next year, CCER will focus on being proactive and starting the initiative for new projects instead of relying on submissions.
“We hope to develop more ideas for ourselves,” Baltich-Schecter said, “rather than passively wait for projects to be handed to us.”
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