Brandon Studler '17 and Leah Rohlfsen

Recycled Electronics

Annie Williams '17

For most students, electronics lose their value the minute they break. But now, instead of throwing away old or broken devices, students will have the opportunity to donate gently used computers, tablets, iPads, Kindles and smartphones to a service that will refurbish and redistribute them to the local Canton Central Schools. Brandon Studler ’17, a sociology major, was recently awarded a grant of $2,000 from the Canton Community Fund for his electronics recycling proposal.

Brandon’s grant was among two of the seven proposals that were funded in fall 2016. Neal Burdick ’72, president of the board of the Canton Community Fund explains the three main criteria: “The project must benefit the local community in some way; it must be for a specific project (not just a budget); or it must be awarded to a non-profit,” Burdick says, “Our objective is to do things that improve the quality of life, specifically in Canton.”

Brandon’s work this past summer as an intern in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), informed him about student needs in low-income districts. When Brandon returned to campus in August, he began working with Leah Rohlfsen, associate professor and chair of sociology, in drafting a proposal as an independent study course in sociology. Rohlfsen guided Brandon as he identified a local need, gathered data, liaised with campus and school district personnel, and developed a budget. 

“Many public schools in states all around the country are going digital and assigning homework and projects on devices, have virtual textbooks and more,” says Brandon. “The problem is in many low-income communities, urban and rural students cannot afford these devices and are falling behind, perpetuating lower social status and high dropout rates.” He notes that this applies to many North Country communities as well.

“I was born and raised in the Adirondacks and really wanted to bring back what I learned in the U.S. Senate to the North Country,” Brandon says. He has designed the project as low maintenance, and accommodating a transitory population, which he believes is key to long term success. Student and faculty involvement will be easy. “It will be advertised on SLUwire and in the Student Center and around campus,” Brandon says.

Collection began in January and will continue throughout the spring semester.