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Sustainable Living and Eco-Stewardship (SLE) Program

Ramapo College’s SLE Program, relaunched in the Spring of 2017, aims to engage undergraduate students in promoting green lifestyles and in taking leadership roles for sustainability action on campus. The SLE Program draws on the tradition of our previous Sustainable Living Facility (SLF) program, and aims to broaden the agenda to include sustainability action. This is a residential program for students committed to practicing a sustainable lifestyle, and become ecological stewards within the Ramapo College student community.


‘Eco-dorms’ or green residence facilities or sustainable living facilities – are innovative life style approaches for those of us passionate about sustainability practice, and committed to reducing our ecological footprints. This is a new movement springing up across college campuses to promote outreach and education on sustainability. They range from small (e.g. 36-occupant) green buildings with student programming, including seminars and organic gardens, where the focus truly is on ‘living green’ and infusing sustainability into the student lifestyle; to large (125-360 student) green buildings designed to save operating costs over conventionally constructed residences, but with the residents essentially oblivious to notions of sustainability. There are also campuses where ‘green lifestyles’ are being promoted in small ‘green themed houses’, with programming support, but without a green building. Additionally, campuses also lead Eco Rep programs, which are student-led programs to promote climate action and outreach on campus. This relatively new movement towards leadership and stewardship on environmental issues is a growing movement, adopted by at least sixty institutions nationwide.

  1. To promote sustainable living practices through conscious choices to reduce ecological footprint.
  2. To build a strong community for sustainability across the campus.
  3. To build awareness of the need for sustainable thinking amongst the RCNJ student body through peer education.
  4. To take a leadership role in sustainability action and outreach within the campus and across the surrounding community.

SLE Eligibility

  • Students apply for the SLE through a separate application procedure in February. Some elements of the Housing Selection process are done separately;
    • A separate application process is required and certain criteria must be met. The application deadline is February 21, 2022
    • The SLE Committee reviews applications.
    • Please be aware that SLE selection is a competitive process and final selection will be based on your application material.
  • Open to sophomores through seniors, with placement based on earned credits as of Fall 2021.

Residential Locations:

Students in SLE program reside in the Village and in CPAs.  Placement is based on earned credits, as of Fall 2021.

This includes apartment-style living, where students are able to cook for themselves, and live with students who share similar interests. Additionally, SLE participants help maintain to the organic vegetable garden, located behind the Redwood CPA.

Juniors and seniors are eligible to live in the Village, which is close to the Sharp Sustainability Education Center (SSEC). The CPA’s offers occupancy to sophomores through seniors.

  • The Village has single rooms, while the CPAs consist of double rooms.
  • The Village is separately metered for electricity.
  • All the SLE facilities practice composting.

Academic and Learning Opportunities:

The program offers many opportunities to students to foster their interests in building a sustainable community;

  • Learn how to grow your own food
  • Learn to compost
  • Reduce your ecological footprint
  • Earn service learning credits and build your resume
  • Live with a great ecologically minded community, with many opportunities to hold community events.
  • Build connections with local community networks such as MEVO and the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
  • Become a community steward and learn effective leadership skills while leading sustainability campaigns on campus.

Benefits to Ramapo College:

  • “Green living” decreases operating costs (energy/water savings; increased waste diversion, through recycling and composting, therefore decreased refuse)
  • Student engagement in sustainability
  • Culture-building

SLE Requirements

Academic Requirement: SLE is a complete service learning program and hence, requires students to register in two 1 unit Independent Study courses for service learning with SLE faculty.  These will take the form of:

  • Independent Study on Sustainable Living (Fall Semester).  This section will focus on: a Reading Seminar, community building, and reducing ecological footprint
  • Independent Study on Eco-Stewardship (Spring Semester).  This section will focus on building a project to raise awareness about ways of reducing our ecological impact

Eco-Stewardship Requirement: Students will commit to one hour of weekly meetings (on Wednesday evenings, from 5 to 6 pm, based on consensus), 40 hours of community service throughout the academic year, about 20 hours a semester. Ecological leadership work will involve engagement with RA and also student club leaders to promote campus sustainability.

Service opportunities may include:

  • Help maintain the vegetable garden and grow your own food
  • Help develop and maintain a student composting program on campus
  • Explore ways to connect with the local farmers market
  • Support the establishment of the Fair Trade Program on campus
  • ResLife Recycling liaison to Student Recycling Crew (collect data on volume of recyclables, encourage compliance across Residences)
  • Liaison with Ramapo Green, 1STEP, SGA Sustainability Committee, ResLife, etc.

Students will also be expected to be attend sustainability events on campus.

Sustainable Living Requirement: As SLE Program participants, students will be expected to take a leadership role as well as abide by the Ramapo Green Sustainability Pledge. This is geared toward inculcating a green life style and to encourage students to reduce their footprint on campus.

Examples of actions which students are expected to undertake include:

  • Grow your own food
  • Make sustainable food choices, such as buying locally
  • Compost your food scraps
  • 100% recycling compliance (paper, cardboard, metal, glass, etc.)
  • Improve indoor air quality and limit environmental degradation by using ‘green’ cleaning supplies
  • Reduce personal carbon footprint
    • By taking fewer single-occupancy car trips – carpool; combine trips
    • By using public transit
    • By conserving energy (electricity, heat) and water

SLE Governance

  • Each SLE unit is overseen by a designated RA, who will assist in coordinating the program. The RA will also create programming events targeted to the SLE students.
  • Each SLE cluster can have its own ‘Residential Board,’ with regular meetings to discuss any issues that arise, ideas that can be brought forward, etc. The ResBoard becomes the governing body for the SLE and becomes the core of the community.
  • Facebook page – developed and maintained by members – with information on campus sustainability events, homemade green cleaning supplies; recipes; area vendors of local/organic foods and farmers markets; tips for green living (in support of the ‘Sustainable Living Agreement’).
  • The SLE program is overseen by a Committee, whose role includes the overall governance and budget for the program, and selection of students who apply to the SLEs.
  • Each SLE cluster has a Residential Board made up from its residents, acting as a governing body for the SLE. The Residential Board Chair is the SLE Student Director.

Selection Criteria and Process

  • Students will apply to the SLE program by February 21st, 2022.
  • Applications will be reviewed by representatives from the SLE Committee.
  • Students must submit the following information (in addition to the regular housing form):
    • Sustainability Resume: applicant’s name, major, overview of Sustainability Actions on campus and off campus, future plans for sustainability involvement.
    • Narrative: paragraph (500 words minimum) describing why the applicant wishes to participate in the SLE Program, and expressing their commitment to meet the goals to live sustainably for the entire academic year (see SLE Requirements).
    • At least one letter of recommendation (e.g. from a faculty member) addressed to Dr. Sangha Padhy.
    • List of students they would like to have as room-mates
  • Criteria for review will include the applicant’s Resume and Narrative, plus:
    • Cumulative GPA 2.5 or higher
      • Students who are accepted for the SLEs, but whose cumulative GPA drops below 2.5 in May, may appeal to the selection committee for permission to enter the SLE program in September. The appeal should include documentation stating the student’s plan for improving their GPA. Should the appeal be denied, that student’s space will be filled from the SLE wait-list.
    • Judicial review by the Office of Student Conduct, to ensure no major judicial violations
    • Academic review by Office of the Provost to ensure no academic integrity violations.

Sustainable Living Eco-Stewardship Agreement

Students who are participating in the SLE Program are expected to abide by all Office of Residence Life policies, procedures and housing requirements. For your reference, please refer to the Guide to Community Living and Student Handbook, which is listed on the Residence Life Website. In addition to the regular Housing agreements, students applying to live in the SLE also agree to:

  • Commit to living in the SLE for the entire academic year (Fall and Spring semesters)
  • Complete the SLE Application and Contract, available below.
  • Sign up for a one unit Independent Study, both in the Fall and Spring Semesters, after selection to the Program (Contact Dr. Sangha Padhy for additional information).

Significant violations of this Agreement will result in ineligibility to live in SLEs in future semesters.



Sanghamitra Padhy
Associate Professor Law & Society, and Sustainability
Phone: (201) 684-7381
Office: G-226

Ashwani Vasishth
Professor of Sustainability
Phone: (201) 684-6616
Office: G-202A

Lisa Gonsisko
Director / Residence Life
Phone: (201) 684-7029
Office: Lodge-121