Sustainability RSO provides project funding

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By Courtney Stone, Contributing Writer

Across the country, universities strive to take initiatives to implement sustainability on campus. The Student Sustainability Committee gives the University a chance to reach this goal.

SSC is a student-led committee dedicated to reviewing both student and faculty sustainability project ideas for potential execution on campus. The committee also decides which proposals will receive funding.

“The more enduring mission goal for SSC is to provide students on campus with essentially opportunities to: one, facilitate innovative sustainability projects, and two, to make a difference, an impact, related to sustainability on campus,” said Adrian Chendra, SSC chair.

In fact, all students on campus make a contribution to the sustainability efforts of the University already. Though few are aware, students actually pay two fees to the University as a part of their tuition.

The Sustainable Campus Environment fee goes toward green buildings, recycling energy efficiency, environmentally responsible purchasing and engaging of the University community. The fee is $12.06 per semester.

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The Cleaner Energy Technologies fee is to provide pollution-free renewable energy and to reduce campus energy consumption. This fee is $2 per semester.

All students are ultimately helping the University become more environmentally friendly with almost no additional work.

“That’s why we often try to put such an emphasis on the student outlook because we’re paying through the students’ money, so we want to make sure that we can provide the best services for students,” Chendra said.

The students and faculty who do apply for funding for their ideas go beyond just financing sustainability. Students who apply for funding need to have a good idea and strategy for executing their plan. Then, they turn in the application on SSC’s website by the deadline stated.

“We have students that come in sometimes that they don’t know what to do actually. They just have a good idea, and they’re passionate about it, and that’s great. We love to see that as well,” Chendra said. “We just want to see people who are interested.”

Not all projects have to be large-scale efforts for the University, either. SSC also provides students with the opportunity to receive a microgrant, which is a grant for projects that are fiscally feasible with up to $750.

For this grant, students simply have to submit the proposal, and the committee will vote whether to award the grant at their earliest convenience, most likely their next bi-weekly meeting.

Each project will be given an advisor by SSC to provide insight and administer guidance, if necessary. This faculty member of the University is just another example of the resources SSC provides for students looking to improve sustainability efforts.

Sarah Gediman, external vice chair of SSC, is another recourse of action for project members. She works to spread the word about sustainability and the SCC outside the scope of its members.

“If anything comes up where I can make SSC more available to the community and let people know that we exist, because we are a big resource that a lot of people don’t know about, and my job is to kind of let people know that we are available and how to apply for funding,” Gediman said.

A perk of being in SSC is members get to listen to ideas of future sustainable innovations that could one day be implemented on campus.

“That’s actually one of the things I like about SSC, that I get to learn about the different ways people want to be more sustainable,” Gediman said. “I want people to know that they can both be on (SSC) and that they can use the funds for their own sustainability projects.”

Justin Vozzo, senior in ACES and education working group chair of SSC, is one example of a student who is not only apart of the organization but has a project funded by the committee, too.

Coming into the University as a freshman, Vozzo took a class that inspired him to create a project involving aquaponics. Upon researching, he found out about SSC and its ability to fund student sustainability projects, enabling him to build his actual plan.

“Aquaponics is essentially using aquaculture, which is growing fish, and kind of a hydroponic systems, so like plants grown in water, in unison,” Vozzo said. “So you’re kind of emulating a natural ecosystem and how nutrients would cycle in a natural ecosystem.”

Vozzo’s agriculture aquaponics system was approved by SSC for nearly $5,000 and is currently located in the Turner Hall greenhouses on campus near the ACES library.

Vozzo is still part of SSC to this day. He has served as the food and waste grouping chair, land and water grouping chair and is now the education working chair.

With a large working knowledge of the organization and a passion for sustainability, Vozzo helps his fellow members and the student body stay educated on environmental awareness.

“So when you submit a proposal, it is put into one of those categories. The main role of the subcommittee chairs is to kind of oversee each individual category and go over those projects with the people submitting the proposals,” Vozzo said.

SSC members such as Vozzo seek to help those interested in sustainability by offering support in developing new and innovative ways to make the campus, and ultimately the Earth, more green.

“It’s still a really important part of sustainability, you know, just getting people to think about it in general,” Vozzo said. “Education about our native ecosystems is really cool and also an integral part of sustainability, just learning about what was here before we were and how we can utilize that to our own benefit and, you know, make our campus more of a sustainably conscious ecosystem.”

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