Senior Steve Tulowiecki has taken on a spirit of activism on campus with his involvement in the Geneseo Environmental Organization (GEO) over the past two years. He joined the organization last year and was elected to the position of president last semester. As president, he has been largely responsible for the Energy Saving Contest that started March 1.
"My parents instilled in me a love of the outdoors: fishing, hiking and things like that," Tulowiecki said. He also gained some awareness from stories on the news about environmental problems. However, he didn't take an activist role until coming to Geneseo. "I really wanted to make a difference and was looking for an outlet," he said. He found that outlet in GEO.
Members of the organization have addressed a variety of environmental issues, but the reduction of carbon dioxide emission is most prominent. This year, they've encouraged faculty to use double-sided printing and helped organize a viewing of Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
They have also spent the year planning the Energy Saving Contest, with the simple aim of using less electricity on campus. Tulowiecki has played a large role in the planning and execution of the contest, "talking to ResLife and the administration, and getting everything in place."
With the other members involved, he has measured energy usage by individual students, and compared it to past years. They have been collecting kilowatt usage per hall and dividing that by the population per month. "It's really complicated, but it's the fairest way to do it," Tulowiecki said.
Participating in the contest is a simple matter of shutting down
computers at night, turning lights off when not in the room, and using fewer appliances. And while the prize for the winner is a pizza and ice cream party, everyone can share the greater reward. According to Tulowiecki, "We saved about 55,000 pounds, which is about 27 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted." He noted that the numbers can be larger than students can relate to. Leaving a computer on overnight only adds about a pound of CO2 to the atmosphere. But he emphasized that the numbers add up rapidly, and by doing a small part, students can make a huge difference.
This attitude is a reflection of Tulowiecki's approach to activism itself. Breaking bad habits and starting good ones is all it takes to make a change. He admires almost everyone who has taken a stand, expressing admiration for those who participated in Saturday's "Step it Up Day." However, he is more inclined to action than reaction. "Protesting is great," he said, "but I'd rather be active and figure out ways to have people change." This is the source of his enthusiasm for GEO and the Energy Saving Contest. And he is just as optimistic about activism on a global scale. "The general population is really catching on and its no longer confined to academia and science."
Tulowiecki has always had an active personality and explained that he can rarely tolerate being idle. Whether working on his academics, reading how-to books, hiking in the mountains, playing guitar or piano, learning photography, or working with GEO, he doesn't like sitting still. He admitted that he can sometimes fall out of balance with other people and things in his life, he still finds fulfillment in an active pursuit of his passions. He is particularly ambitious about hiking trips with his family in the Adirondacks. He has taken on 18 mountains and looks forward to the remaining 28 in the decades to come. "It's special every time I get up there," he said.
He has also been following his passion for music, through various majors and minors at Geneseo. He has also played for various LateKnight events and open-mike nights at bars, though not as much as he wish he had time for. From his first day of freshman year, he has been called Van Halen, to the extent that a few of his friends don't even know his real name. He likes all kinds of music, though his favorite kinds are classical and classic rock. He narrowed his favorite bands to Bjork, Debussy and Led Zeppelin. In the future, he will likely go into a field of music history, either with librarianship or a doctorate. That said, he prefers "taking it year by year" over looking too far ahead.
Currently, he is fully occupied with the Energy Saving Contest, which will end on April 22, Earth Day. Despite the fact that it nears completion, students can continue to make a difference for as long as they are on campus. "Just as you would invest in your children's college education," he said, "you can invest in your children's environment growing up." Tulowiecki is certainly doing his part.