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September 27, 2013

 

SUNY students take to streets

Campus cleanup annual tradition of professor’s classes

StudentsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland junior Nicole Whelan picks up a discarded plastic cup with a spoon still in it Thursday during a student cleanup effort on Broadway and other streets in Cortland.

By MATT LEADER
Staff Reporter
mleader@cortlandstandardnews.net

SUNY Cortland professor Syed Pasha’s annual campus cleanup is about more than picking up discarded beer cans and cigarette butts.
“We are trying to build consciousness and awareness,” said Pasha, who has held the cleanup for “at least 15 years.” “The hope is that our students will be sensitive to the fact that we need to keep our place clean.”
A series of off-the-cuff speeches on the steps of Corey Union preceded the hour-long cleanup. They ranged in scope from simple greetings, to calls to take a hand in ending world hunger.
One student even talked about how her hometown in New Jersey was dealing with the crippling effects of an extensive boardwalk fire, a chief source of summer income, and reminded the assembled crowd to be grateful for what they had.
Pasha called it the “state of the planet forum,” and during the brief interludes between speeches, encouraged students and passersby to get up in front of the microphone and take a risk.
“We’re open to what’s going on in the world, what’s happening,” said Pasha, who added that he has staged other such forums all over the world.
Students from Pasha’s classes credited his leadership for getting them involved in something that, for many of them, was unfamiliar.
“I would have never done this before,” said Sarah Holmes, a communications major. “We’re making a difference one piece of garbage at a time.”
The cleanup started out at Corey Union, then proceeded south on Neubig Road before looping up onto Tompkins Street and finally turning onto Prospect Terrace and finishing back at Corey Union. The assembled students filled numerous plastic bags with garbage.
Thoughts on Pasha and his unique teaching style were also laudatory.
“He teaches out of the box,” said communication major Amanda Houston. “He challenges you to think, and helps you form opinions about stuff.”
When asked to reduce the day’s goals to a single, cohesive thought, Pasha had his answer ready.
“Take what you have, and build on it. That’s my life long motto,” he said. “Just know your world. Period.”

 

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