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BSU competitions motivate students to save energy

BEMIDJI – Bemidji State University junior Larisa Berglund said she remembers walking into the Pine Hall laundry room freshman year to find a fellow student sitting in the dark with a flashlight and his cell phone. When she asked him what he was doing, he replied “I’m doing it in the dark.”

For most of February, students throughout BSU’s dormitories were turning off lights and unplugging power strips in an effort to reduce energy consumption in the name of competition, cost-savings and environmental stewardship.

The movement was connected to two competitions at BSU. One is among the BSU dorms, and the other is with other campuses throughout the country.

“Do it in the dark” is the annual competition among the dorms as to which one can save the most energy over a stretch of time.

“Ready, set, reduce” is a competition in which BSU is competing against roughly 200 other campuses. The BSU Sustainability office is using the same reduced-energy data for both competitions.

Students joined the effort around campus for a number of different reasons. Freshman Hailey Horob said it is important to save energy simply because we already waste so much. She said that if an individual can help the situation by saving energy, “why not try?”

Another student, Todd Jones, thought about the situation from more of a financial standpoint. “If you can make things cheaper, it’s always good in my book,” he said.

BSU Sustainability Coordinator Erika Bailey-Johnson said the total savings from the “Do it in the dark” competition usually amounts to about $1,000 a year.

One student named Matthew chose to save energy by unplugging everything in the room during the night. He said he usually doesn’t have anything in the fridge that can’t last a few hours, and, if he does, he just places it next to the cold window.

According to Bailey-Johnson, the competition used to be open to those who lived off campus, too. She explained how a group of guys chose to use candles for a source of light instead of electricity.

While the competition has ended, students continue being energy conscious. Horob said now that she has got in the habit of not using as much energy, it is something with which she will “most definitely” continue.

Bailey-Johnson said she hopes that through the competitions, students will realize how much energy they use and make a conscious effort to change the way they use it.

“We’re trying to make people think about their energy use,” Bailey-Johnson said.

Article written by Jordan Shearer.