Solar-powered future

By Shianna Gibbons

The Student Government Association is bringing solar-powered benches to Youngstown State University’s campus and they’ll be available in the spring of 2023.

The solar-powered benches were ordered through EnerFusion Inc., an eco-friendly company based in Michigan. EnerFusion has provided solar-powered benches to over 150 places in the U.S. Its goal is to power mobile devices in a clean and reusable way. YSU will be the third location in Ohio to receive solar-powered benches from EnerFusion.

Maguire Franko, the vice president of SGA, said one of SGA’s goals has been to incorporate more green energy and recycling on campus. The solar-powered benches are SGA’s attempt to move toward more green and reusable energy.

“One part of our one initiative that we’ve taken on this year is the implementation of green energy ventures on campus,” Franko said. “The plan right now is to get those seven charging tables with a mix of some non-charging tables. We will expand further onto campus with more solar-powered charging tables soon.”

Nickiforos Mastorides, the president of SGA, said the solar-powered benches idea was started by the previous SGA administration and is now becoming a reality.

“The plan began last year with President Nicholas Koupiaris and Vice President Gianna Battaglia. We wanted to make sure that we were able to hopefully complete that, and with the help of President Tressel [and] the [YSU] Foundation, we are able to have these ordered,” Mastorides said. 

The YSU Foundation assisted SGA with the initial purchase for the solar-powered benches. Paul McFadden, the president of the YSU Foundation, said the generosity of Daniel H. Becker’s donation to YSU made this possible.

“It was more of a happenstance that [Becker] is supporting the fountain commons and so many of these tables are going to the fountain. So, he is allowing a part of his gift to fund the tables,” McFadden said.

Mastorides said SGA is looking for more potential donors to expand these green-energy benches.

“We have a list of about 30 spots on campus where we hopefully plan on putting them in the future, but these are going to be donation-based,” Mastorides said. “[It’s] best to start with the fountain so other donors can see this project, what this initiative is doing for campus and then incentivize people to donate. Our next two spots we want to focus on are Heritage Park [and] the dorms on campus.”

Mastorides said SGA will be hosting days where students can donate old technology to be recycled. Another initiative it’s looking at is supporting students and the Penguin Pantry on campus.

“SGA has been pushing for recyclable technology. Those days, students can bring in old technology, and we have bins set up where they can donate,” Mastorides said. “Eventually, we’re trying to push for a garden here shortly. We’re hoping we can make a community garden or partner with an organization within the community. So we could hopefully sustain our pantry in the future.”

Franko said SGA is interested in pursuing different avenues for eco-friendly transportation access on campus. 

“[SGA] has been in talks with the owners of YoGo Bike Share, which is an eco-friendly micro-mobility program that’s expanding in Youngstown starting in March 2023,” Franko said. “There’s been no set-in-stone discussions yet, but we have talked with them about potentially expanding onto campus.”