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Students called to action

Eastern recently received the 2007 Green Power: Turn it On! award from PennFuture to accolade our campus’s decision to be 100 percent wind-powered. Although this is a great honor, there are ways for our campus to further its energy efficiency. However, student involvement is lacking.

Vice President of Student Development Bettie Ann Brigham said, “Right now I am having trouble finding students to work with me.” She explained that students have responded well to choosing the surcharge for wind energy, but more could be done.

Brigham mentioned energy saving alternatives like solar powered panels which would assist in saving energy, but would still be cost efficient. Eastern could also be conscious of water-saving techniques. “We flush every toilet on this campus with pure drinking water,” Brigham said, “It feels sinful.” She explained that some colleges have tanks to collect rain water that is then used to flush the toilets.

The 100 percent wind energy initiative was student-led by a group that promoted environmental sustainability at Eastern years ago. Another group that was focused on consumer reduction ran a contest between residence halls to bring the use of energy down. Both groups fizzled out after leaders graduated.

Andrew Howe, a 2007 alumnus of Eastern, who was a great advocate for wind energy at Eastern says there are two ways to bring change to our campus: individual and institutional.

“When it comes to individual stuff, it’s really a lifestyle choice for every student at Eastern,” he said. “Are you going to be lazy, or will you turn off lights when you’re done in a room? Do you need to leave your computer on all the time?” He would encourage students to practice changes they want to see, and slowly, the changes will occur.

As for institutional change, Howe said that Eastern is a unique place because the administration genuinely listens to students. “Most of what is needed is conversations,” he said. “Getting 100 percent wind energy to happen was really just a matter of talking to a lot of people.” He said the people to talk to would be faculty members, student government, administrators and staff members.

Vincent O’Grady, an adjunct of the business department, said in an e-mail that there are grants such as ‘Solar Scholars’ and ‘Energy Harvest’ that Eastern could apply for to obtain money to make energy changes.

“I think literally, the sky is the limit,” Brigham said. According to her, most of the administration and staff want these changes and challenges, but students are needed to be advocates and propose grant writings to fund these changes.

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