Have you ever sprinted out of your dorm room in a hurry to get to the frat quad and realize that you neglected to turn off your light? Or perhaps you are one of those people who leave your AIM on all night hoping for your crush to instant message you at 6 a.m. Embarrassingly, I must admit that I am guilty of all the aforementioned accounts. However, it was not until the kickoff of UR Unplugged, an energy saving competition between all dorms except for non-ResLife Frat Quad houses, that I began to notice the extent of my wastefulness.

You may have seen a plethora of yellow light-switch fliers cluttering the walls of your dorm hallway lately. In case you did not know, these posters are more than just a fun imitation of a typical light switch. They are promotions for UR Unplugged, a staffing event for the month of Feb. designed by resident advisor and Take Five student Nils Klinkenberg. Klinkenberg, also president of Grassroots on campus, engaged in an independent study last year in which he did extensive research exploring the different ways to save energy.

He brought his ideas to the University Energy Manager Morris Pierce and the office of Residential Life. They agreed that it was an excellent idea and could be made possible with this year’s installment of new energy and water meters by Cogen. ResLife also agreed to contribute $500 toward campus-wide enjoyment at UR’s Earth Day Extravaganza in the spring if the students’ conservation efforts prove successful.

UR Unplugged is sponsored by the residential advisors of Gilbert, Hoeing, Crosby as well as Grassroots and ResLife. Each week the energy used by the residents of all ResLife dorms – except for a few of the fraternity houses – will be measured. The dorm that saves the most energy for the week will receive a $100 prize from ResLife. The students in the building who conserve the most energy for the entire month will each receive $2, which they can spend at a Gala-Social-Party-and-Award-Ceremony-Event.

The question is, how can you start saving energy? “There will be events all throughout the month” Gilbert RA and sophomore Mollie Foust said. “There is going to be an Olympics Kickoff that will get people out of their rooms. They will be able to watch TV in one place [which will be] more social and not use as much energy,”

Although publicity for the event has been a little slow, the sponsors plan to amp up their advertising within the coming weeks. “We are starting a publicity push on how people can save,” Klinkenberg said. “They need to turn off the light and turn off their computers at night rather than [keeping themselves] signed onto to AIM. [Students] should also not keep the dryers on as long.”

Although this is being done as a mandatory staffing event, Klinkenberg anticipates that this is just a mere trial-run for a larger, year-long endeavor. He hopes to modify the project for next year, including conservation not only of electricity but also of water.

UR Unplugged only began a few days ago, yet it is apparent that many students are showing interest. Already people have come up to Klinkenberg boasting, “Hey Nils, I’m turning off the lights in my room now,” Klinkenberg said.

So when you go back to your room tonight, make the extra effort to turn off your light and unplug your computer. I guarantee your crush will instant message you when you sign on again in the morning.

Permutt can be reached at spermutt@capustimes.org.



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