by Hannah Grammer
April 28, 2020
Genesee Community College’s Marketing Director, Donna Rae Sutherland is GCC’s “Green Queen” when it comes to making the College an eco-friendlier environment. Sutherland is a part of what is known as the “Sustainability Committee,” which is responsible for maintaining an energy efficient campus, as well as providing ways students can practice good recycling habits.
GCC has not always been so environmentally friendly. “When I came to GCC, there wasn’t an environmentally-oriented program; bottles and cans weren’t being recycled,” she said.
Maureen Leupold, a retired biology professor at GCC, cofounded the Earth Club with Sutherland. The Earth Club started Eco Fest. “That was our big thing,” Sutherland said. “It was an event during the month of April to honor Earth Day.” Leupold was a big advocate of the Earth Club and regularly encouraged her students to get involved. The club only lasted so long however. “It was getting harder and harder for students to join up; for whatever reason, they weren’t interested,” Sutherland said.
GCC President James Sunser then developed the Sustainability Committee and Sutherland was asked to join. There are ten faculty members who are currently a part of the committee. There is usually one student representative as well. “One of the challenges when it comes to students is that generally, students are here for two years maybe three,” Sutherland said. It makes it a challenge to involve students in the committee because they are generally getting themselves grounded and are unsure of what they want to be involved in. “The four-year colleges have more of an advantage because students are there for an extended period of time,” she said.
As of this year, the committee is under the new chairmanship of Chelsea O’ Brien, who directs the Tutoring Center at GCC. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, many events planned by the committee have been put on hold. One being an event that would celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. However, next year these events will be reopened to the public.