New Paltz has been recognized as one of the nation’s greenest institutions in the “Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.”
The guide profiles 320 schools in the United States and two in Canada, selecting colleges based on their “strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation,” according to the Princeton Review website. It is available for free as a downloadable PDF.
Among its many other green features, New Paltz’s LEED building requirements, the addition of the Atrium to the Student Union, RecycleMania and local environmental research opportunities are showcased in this year’s guide.
One of New Paltz’s student groups, Students for Sustainable Agriculture, is recognized in the guide for its contributions to campus sustainability. Yael Krevsky, co-president of the organization, said that the club spearheads many food service and agriculture projects, as well as educational initiatives that highlight the importance of sustainable agriculture.
“A lot of what we are trying to do is change the way in which people view food as an environmental issue—our society has made the two topics mutually exclusive issues,” Krevsky said. “The implications that our current food systems has on society politically and economically is huge.”
Eric Wood, project coordinator for New Paltz’s NYPIRG chapter, said that although the college’s inclusion in the guide is a positive achievement, it was not unforeseeable.
“The students here are very education oriented and socially active, so though impressed, [I am] not surprised,” Wood said.
The NYPIRG chapter, founded in 1979, has a long history as a green force on campus, having been responsible for initiating the college’s recycling program. Recently, they have issued a resolution in support of clean construction on campus, and they continue to work with students to prevent hydrofracking in the area.
Sociology Chair Brian Obach, a founding member of the Environmental Task Force (ETF), said that New Paltz’s 2012 recognition marks its third appearance in the guide.
Obach said that the ETF — established in 2005 by faculty, students and staff — has made significant contributions to campus with projects focused on areas such as sustainable food, green purchasing policies and recycling. Obach also cited improvement in building design as a recent achievement for the college.
“The ETF has long advocate[d] for buildings that are greener and more energy-efficient,” Obach said. “The folks at facilities management on campus have really taken it to heart.”
Obach said it is imperative that all people at the college become inspired to help the environment.
“The Princeton listing may help to draw more environmentally conscious students to New Paltz, but it is my hope that everyone gets more involved in these issues,” Obach said. “We are in the midst of the greatest ecological crisis in the history of humankind and many people, including students and even faculty and administrators at the college, still don’t appreciate the scope of the problems we are facing.”
Wood, on the other hand, said that current environmental crises are already encouraging people to become environmentally aware.
“We are seeing an increase in student interest in our environmental projects over the past few years here in New Paltz,” Wood said. “The negative impacts of climate change are becoming more tangible and visible these days, which is sparking interest in activism in the environmental field I believe.”