BCC Students Celebrate Earth Day and Learn About Improving the Environment

Bronx, NY – Bronx Community College students, along with one billion people around the globe, focused on environmental conditions during the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The April 22, 2010, daylong event at BCC highlighted environmental justice, green jobs, and sustainability issues.

Guest speakers, who set up exhibits across campus, delivered messages about how deteriorating conditions in water, air, and food at any level on the planet affects all of us. Environmental justice was an important aspect of the day’s discussion. It refers to correcting inequitable distributions of environmental burdens (such as pollution and industrial facilities) in or around where people live, work, or play. “Our neighborhoods deserve the same quality of life as any other in New York,” stated Congressman José E. Serrano. “We have fought many efforts to continue to locate unwanted and harmful industries and activities in our community. There is still much work to be done, but we are making progress. Most importantly, many young people are engaged as citizen activists.”

Luis Torres, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Energy, acknowledged that the day was an opportunity to reflect on how students, faculty, and staff can create a healthier and greener environment for the planet. He and Biology Professor Claudio Mazzatenta stressed the need for everyone to recognize their responsibilities for nurturing our natural resources. They encouraged people to celebrate Mother Earth and share knowledge about how to improve environmental quality.

The day’s topics ranged from water quality and ecological restoration to renewable energy and health efficient living spaces. Activist Jonny Dubowsky, founder of True Offsets (an organization dedicated to reforestation and energy conservation) spoke to students about the effects of climate change and how they can help save the planet, beginning with their campus. Also, Kate Shackford, executive vice president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, discussed the work her organization does to help businesses become more energy efficient.

On-campus activities included a student film about sustainability, poster displays, and an essay contest centered on environmental justice. For the contest, students had to address the meaning of environmental justice and what they believe the College, their community, and students should do about it. Students Nanjean Gonzales and Frank Hasselmark were the winners of the contest and each won a Sony Reader. Meanwhile, Professor Mazzatenta showcased an organic garden on the southwest corner of Colston Hall. Funded by BCC, in collaboration with the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), the garden will be tended by students, faculty, and staff.

“The lesson of Earth Day is that all of us have a role to play in improving environmental management where we live and work,” said Howard Apsan, CUNY university director of Environmental, Health, Safety and Risk Management. “Every little bit counts.”

The Earth Day events at Bronx Community College were sponsored by the BCC Sustainability Council, Center for Sustainable Energy, Office of Student Life, Collaborative Education Programs, and the Global Initiative.

Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College (BCC), the oldest of City University of New York’s six community colleges, serves as the engine for academic and economic mobility for motivated students from diverse backgrounds and preparations. More than 11,000 students from over 109 nations are enrolled in 30 associate degree and certificate programs including Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Computer Graphics, Nuclear Medicine, and Business Administration, Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies. BCC’s 43-acre campus, high above the Harlem River, features architectural masterpieces of Stanford White and Marcel Breuer, as well as the Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the nation’s first hall of fame. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 14th year of leadership service to the College, which is located on a 43-acre campus at 2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street , formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) ) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions and is also working to enhance student and academic support at the colleges.. NCEA also coordinates the College’s global initiative which facilitates global learning within and outside of the classroom.

Bryant Mason / (718) 289-5208 / bryant.mason@bcc.cuny.edu