The Dernogalizer

April 10, 2009

Green Jobs in College Park Column

Green Collar Jobs

Green Collar Jobs

So I have a column out today instead of Tuesday because of some complications.  This was as much as i could fit into 550 words worth of space.  I like how they threw in a disclaimer at the end about my dad.

Crime: Get to the root of it – and green it up

Matt Dernoga

Issue date: 4/10/09

I’ve been hearing about safety issues ever since I arrived on the campus. The Student Government Association and the university have had plenty of ideas to address off-campus safety, but they don’t get to the root of the problem: Why is there crime? I’ve seen enough e-mails from University Police to realize most incidents involve robbery. People in the surrounding community are stealing from students because they don’t have money or jobs.

Crime is always going to be high if you don’t address poverty. The best way to reduce off-campus crime would be to revitalize the College Park community and make this area of Prince George’s County better off. Easier said than done.

I’m going to use bringing green jobs to College Park as an example. The SGA has as much authority as the Queen of England, but it does have the standing to build coalitions – and they should make a list of stakeholders to bring green jobs and less crime to College Park. We’ve got students, business leaders, the city council, the county council, our state representatives, religious leaders, non-profits, the university administration and people who live in the community.

Reach out to all these stakeholders as best you can and collaborate with them. It’s a transformative process that doesn’t happen overnight. Local groups such as Progressive Cheverly and Green DMV are already working on bringing green jobs to low-income areas and would welcome student involvement; Annapolis matters, but the state legislature isn’t the only decision-maker out there. Some Prince George’s County politicians tried to get the state to use hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to bring a D.C. United soccer stadium to the county. Fail.

How about asking for a Maryland Clean Energy Center similar to the one Montgomery County just got? The center will provide technology commercialization, business incubation and workforce development and training. It’s there to help meet the state’s goal of creating at least 100,000 green jobs by 2015. Wouldn’t it help us if some of those were created here? Or how about pushing for the development of a low-interest energy-efficiency loan fund by the city or county? This can be used to give low-income residents the means to retrofit their home and lower the energy bill while providing jobs to others in the community.

I just got an e-mail that the university is holding an open forum Tuesday called “Moving Diversity Forward.” That’s the best you can come up with? Nothing worthwhile is easy. A way to get diverse groups to work together is give them an issue to address that everyone has a stake in. Bringing green jobs to College Park to address poverty would allow the SGA to combine the ideas, effort and ingenuity from a broad spectrum of groups on the campus. Green, social justice, cultural and religious groups would be inclined to get involved. The university would be wise to provide resources to this kind of an initiative not only to actually back up their diversity talk, but also because spending a little money to reduce crime would lessen the financial strain security costs our school every year.

The SGA and university administration should think outside the box next semester for ways to address on-campus problems such as diversity and safety. Green jobs to College Park is just one tool in the bag.

Matt Dernoga is a junior government and politics major whose father serves on the Prince George’s County Council. He can be reached at

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