Students Drive Sustainability Efforts
December 9, 2022 — Marist students are at the forefront of the College’s sustainability efforts, leading a number of environmentally-focused initiatives both on and off campus.
Most recently, as the winter break approaches, students are organizing the fall “Semester Sweep Out” program to collect donations campus-wide. The student-run initiative collects furniture, food, bedding, clothing, appliances, personal care items, and other goods that students often throw out at the end of the semester. The items are then donated to local non-profits in the greater Poughkeepsie area. Student organizers encourage their peers to think of donating items instead of throwing them in dumpsters before leaving for winter break.
“We’re using this fall as a trial run, so it’s a good effort to just see what we get with all the resources in place,” said Kat Wiehe '23, event organizer. “We’re pushing for non-perishable food this semester to clean out cabinets, especially for the holidays. However, the Semester Sweep Out will remain an ‘everything goes’ drive to encourage everyone to participate, sweep out the cobwebs on old stuff, and give it new life.”
From left to right, Marist students, Kaitlyn Wiehe, Jayna Cherny, Jenna Cottone, Amanda Paulus, Jessica Eggleston, Kate Killiam. Ayana Murphy in front at the Spring 2022 Marist Sweep Out
Wiehe '23 credits alumna Carly Kolstad '21 for creating the project in 2021. That spring she took donated items and gave them away in Mansion Square Park with the help of Marist Physical Plant. This semester’s collection will run through Thursday, Dec. 15 with 12 large red collection boxes located throughout campus-in resident hall lobbies, laundry rooms, and other high-traffic spaces.
Local organizations benefiting from the donations include Fareground, Hudson River Housing, Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Newburgh Restore, and the Lunchbox. This student-led initiative falls under the guidance of the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership, which helps connect students with the community.
“Part of the draw for environmentally-oriented students, as well as students of any discipline, is that they get to take part in hands-on, engaged learning where they can spearhead initiatives,” said Dr. Melissa Gaeke, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership and Professional Lecturer in Political Science. “With just a little attention and nurturing, students can really find an opportunity to not just talk about what they want to do but do what they think matters.”
The first “Sweep Out” debuted last spring as the academic year ended. In addition to the Semester Sweep Out, the Marist Student Government Association’s Sustainability Committee is supporting initiatives such as composting efforts on campus. Composting is a practice that provides a range of environmental benefits, which include, improving soil, conserving water, and reducing food waste, while minimizing landfill waste and harmful emissions. The Marist composting system aims to be a simple process that caters to the busy lifestyles of college students and faculty.
Emily Liguori '25, Vice President of SGA’s Sustainability Committee holding compost container. Photo by Avalon Johnson '24.
“I am truly honored and so excited to be a part of this progressing composting initiative,” said Emily Liguori '25, Vice President of SGA’s Sustainability Committee. “One of my favorite parts about this project is that our end product gives back to the community. It is tremendously gratifying to know that food scraps that would otherwise be thrown away are contributing to a garden that supports academia and curbs local food insecurity.”
Recently named among the most Environmentally Responsible Colleges by The Princeton Review, Marist students and faculty alike are making waves to move sustainability efforts forward. The Marist Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee CSAC staffed by students, administration, and faculty is one organization with members volunteering in the Semester Sweep Out. CSAC also has ties with a number of other environmentally-focused clubs on campus.