Sunday, July 21, 2024

Plattsburgh aims for greener campus

Students working in the campus garden which is located at the edge of campus by the parking lot outside Moffitt Hall.

 

By Nadia Paschal

As the seasons start to change and the weather gets a little less frigid, it’s a refreshing sight to see students outside once more and the green grass peeking out through the thawing snow. However, this is also an important time to reflect on winter as a whole. 

Climate change is still a daunting issue that citizens all around the world face, sometimes not even noticing the changes that have occurred or how it affects them. 

It seems to be an impossible task to tackle, but thankfully there are a few ways the average person can implement in their life to be more environmentally friendly. In fact, the campus has already implemented certain changes to make the school greener overall.

The Committee for Environmental Responsibility is an organization designed to lessen SUNY Plattsburgh’s and its students’ overall impact on the environment. Comprised of professionals, faculty and students, one of the larger responsibilities the committee deals with is the Green Grant.

When going through the fees you have to pay before registering each semester, you may have noticed an optional green fee. 

Although only $3, this small price to pay has a huge impact. This money gets pooled together and is put toward the Green Grant, which in turn is used to fund projects that boost the eco-friendliness of the school.

The campus garden, dining hall composting and electric vehicle charging stations are just some of what this initiative has brought to life to spruce up campus.

One member of the committee is Emily Reinhardt, a graduate student in the natural resource and ecology program. She started as the student co chair, which allowed her to vote on motions that benefited the environmental wellbeing of Plattsburgh.

Reinhardt always had an interest in joining the committee and finally got her chance when a professor asked her. 

She mentions several projects that were designed with the environment in mind, one being the campus garden, which was originally started up using the Green Grant fund. 

Unfortunately, some proposals do not make it that far, whether that’s because students graduate, the grant is not approved or students simply are too busy to be involved.

“Some projects have been successful, and others over the years fizzle out. That’s something the committee wants to avoid, but it’s very hard when students are only here for four years,” Reinhardt said.

Compared to other campuses, there is more Plattsburgh could be doing, especially in regards to outdoor spaces. Reinhardt shared her experience visiting a campus in Pennsylvania and described seeing Adirondack chairs placed all over the grounds.

“Every Adirondack chair was filled and (students) had their laptops out,” she said.

Reinhardt recommends more comfortable seating outside as well as wifi extenders so that students can utilize the outdoor spaces that are available. 

By creating opportunities that benefit both the environment and students, the community can grow to be more lively and a sustainable community can be formed right here on campus.

“Students definitely care, and they’re definitely interested in these topics. I’d like to think that there’s students with ideas,” Reinhardt said.

The Committee for Environmental Responsibility is not the only group on campus striving for change. The Environmental Club consists solely of students, but they work just as hard to spread awareness. 

The club puts on events such as hikes and beach clean ups, and has plans for the eclipse that is taking place in April.

Samuel Lubell, the current president of the club, wants it to be clear that it is open for anyone to join.

“The idea is that we’re not a major-specific or department-specific club that is aiming to spread awareness and do fun activities about the environment and climate,” Lubell said.

Lubell offers solutions to improve the state of the campus. His ideas include putting in more native vegetation, reinforcing recycling habits, as well as offering information on how much of an effect students make by doing so. 

“We have power to change the environment around us on campus,” Lubell said.

However, Lubell also pointed out that many dining halls do not offer the option of using your own refillable cup anymore, and believes that should be encouraged again.

“It’s definitely made some steps in the right direction recently which is good. I do think there is still a lot of work to be done,” Lubell said.

It’s important to remember that small steps can make a big difference in terms of helping the environment. 

Change starts locally, and there is power in numbers. When students band together, that’s when the effects can truly start to be noticed. 

 

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