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The University Magazine

Student groups take on environmental challenges

The Student Environmental Action League (SEAL) is taking steps to ensure sustainability is not only taught inside RIT classrooms, but practiced outside of them. The student-run organization seeks to promote environmental awareness on campus, and has done so by hosting a number of events.

“We’re a club that is open to anyone with a passion for making our world, and the RIT campus, a better place to live – particularly in terms of promoting practices that preserve and restore our environment and thus promote social justice and health,” says Heather Newton, one of the club’s members.

In March, the group hosted “Project Runway,” an event in which teams compete to create garments out of used materials. Students then showed off their designs in a runway-style fashion show. And in April, the group set its sights on improving recycling at RIT. They spent an entire day sorting through RIT’s trash and found that 46 percent of the total trash (294 pounds) could have been recycled.

But in comparison to its peers around the country, RIT does quite well with its recycling efforts. SEAL entered RIT in a Recyclemania competition, where colleges and universities compete to see which campuses have the best recycling habits. RIT finished 13th overall in the United States and first in New York state in Recyclemania’s Grand Champion Competition.

SEAL also coordinates an annual Electronic Waste Recycling Day on campus, where unwanted electronic equipment is collected and either refurbished or recycled.
RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering houses a student chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, an international organization designed to enhance the incorporation of numerous facets of sustainability in engineering, science and society. The RIT chapter is currently working with Rochester’s St. Joseph’s Homeless Shelter.

“Most of us got involved with Engineers for a Sustainable World because we wanted to make our community a better place,” notes Jim Cezo, past president of the RIT chapter. “We all get a lot out of our work with St. Joseph’s because we see the positive impact it has on people’s lives and society as a whole.”