COLUMBIA — Gaze at an average college campus on any given evening and you’ll likely see bright lights illuminating the buildings where students reside. At Stephens College, though, this is not the case. Lately, the residence halls there have been giving the impression that no one is home, all in support of environmental awareness.
This year, the Stephens College Student Government Association implemented Stephens College Going Green, a plan to decrease energy use and increase recylcing. Also known as SCG2, the plan has had widespread effects on campus, which are apparent in the dark residence halls and the increased number of recycle bins.
In January, SCG2 started a “Kill-A-Watt” contest between residence halls that challenges students to keep lights that are not in use turned off. Since the program started, energy has been reduced 10 to 20 percent, according to the Stephens College Web site. Stephens’ building calculations of utility data indicate that some buildings have even lowered their electric usage by as much as 46 percent, according to David Fox, the director of purchasing at Stephens.
“Honestly, students have been turning off most of the lights in the hallways or leaving one set on, just enough so they can see,” said Lindsey Weber, Student Government Association president and an active member of SCG2. “I will turn on a light and a couple hours it is off again. They are so adamant about it now.”
Stephens also participated this year in the nationwide campus recycling competition “RecycleMania.” The school placed sixth in the nation for recycling per capita and first in recycling paper, with students recycling an average of 31.82 pounds of paper per person. That number beat out schools like Stanford University and Princeton University.
“I think people got really excited about RecycleMania because it was really easy to chart the results; they saw how much trash they had produced and how the recycle bins were overflowing,” Weber said.
Students aren’t the only ones involved in this new way of life. Rebecca Stith, director of leadership and programming at Stephens, said she’s also made changes to her life as a result of the program.
“It encouraged me to start recycling more,” Stith said. “I now use the shopping bags that are reusable. I was surprised that such a small campus could make such a big difference.”
Faculty and staff have really united with the students on this front, Weber said.
In honor of Earth Day, the freshman class is hosting an event in Senior Hall on April 22 called “Lights Off, Mics On.” The event will feature performances on a stage lit only by candles and string lights.
Although the SCG2 campaign is in its first year, Weber said it’s likely to continue for years to come.
Angela LeVota, a Stephens freshman and member of the Student Government Association, said she’s all for making Stephens green.
“I think that starting out as a freshman and carrying it through the next four years is definitely something that we want to do,” LeVota said.