SO, now that you know about my trip to Ghana, which is by itself amazingly exciting, you should learn more about my other items of interest and activism.
I’m currently involved in Students for Global Change here on campus, which I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. We are basically an umbrella corporation that deals with a huge slew of global issues. The two main focuses of our group are: environmental awareness/sustainability (which I think we’ve designated as Ozzy-Eco) and then our human rights aspect. They’re too enormous topics, so we tend to keep ourselves busy in dealings within these spheres.
I love being a part of S4GC because it does give students an opportunity to make an impact in either the campus community or in the general Oswego community. For instance, last year I took it upon myself to figure out why the lights were on in the bathrooms in Funnelle Hall for 24/7. I always wanted to turn the lights off upon exiting because I was always taught to conserve energy. I asked my RA if I could put a sign asking people to shut off the lights when they left. He replied that it was a safety issue, and we couldn’t actually turn off the lights. (He meant more specifically for inebriated people stumbling in the bathrooms at 4 a.m. to throw up). Needless to say, I didn’t stop at that answer.
I went to hall council, various administrators and Students for Global Change to figure out how we could work getting motion-sensor lights in the bathrooms. At first, I thought that it was going to be a significantly easy process. I mean, come on, we all know motion sensors cut back on energy! It’s common sense, right? Well, that may be true, but in the real world, getting anything done requires lots of research and paperwork, as I found out.
It took me from the first month of school in the fall of 2008 to the very last week of the spring semester in May 2009. I spent a lot of time e-mailing and researching different types of motion-sensors. Jerry DeSantis in Facilities on campus was extremely helpful and empowering throughout the whole experience. He was able to meet with me and help me develop a business plan, making the proper proposals, outlines, contacts, etc. to see this project through. DeSantis got me in touch with Pat Riley of Utilities on campus who was able to help me come up with a game plan to install the sensors. We got in touch with Larry Lively of Grainger Company, which provided us with motion sensors and timers. Riley provided John Ferlito, electrical supervisor in Utilities, with the necessary information to have his men, in turn, install the sensors.
So, through a collaborated effort, DeSantis, Riley, Ferlito, and I were able to set up two bathrooms on the 9th floor in Funnelle with light timers. These pro-logger light timers allowed us to get exact figures on how much time the lights were on in the bathrooms when people weren’t using them. These timers also provided estimates to how much money we could save on energy costs with the installation of motion-sensor lights.
We had these installed a month before finals week was over. In the girls’ bathroom on the 9th floor, the bathroom was vacant with the lights on for 45.3% of the time. The boys’ bathroom was on and vacant for 17.6% of the time (who ever said girls take longer in the bathroom? I have proof they don’t!) When we installed the motion sensors, we saved 26% of the energy used because the lights turned off when vacant. We saved 19.4% with the boys’ bathroom.
Since the installation, there have been some concerns with the safety of the sensors because several times the lights have shut off on people in the showers, but that’s easily remedied with a foot stuck out of the shower curtain. The boys’ bathroom is set at 20 minutes for the sensor, while the girls’ is set at 15 minutes. The overall response of students has been overwhelming support for the sensors.
NOW… John Moore, who has taken over Jerry DeSantis’s place as director of sustainability, is in the process of preparing to do a campus-wide installation of the motion sensors in the residence hall bathrooms. Moore plans on installing the sensors as well as an LED “night-light” for students in case the lights turn off while they’re in one of the stalls or shower (because there are no windows in Funnelle bathrooms).
The reason I brought all of this information up is to remind students that they don’t have to just accept things as they are on campus. If you come up with ideas to better the campus community, don’t hesitate to take action just because you may not be “old enough” or “wise enough” to do this. I personally had NO experience whatsoever with coming up with a business plan, but with the support of DeSantis and everyone else, I was able to succeed. And look at how far that got me!
Students for Global Change provides students like me with the resources to get in touch with the right people on campus to get something done. We do a lot of projects for educating about environmental injustice, human rights violations, and what students can do to better our community. We all work together to find a way to help individual students achieve their goals, just like I did.
SO… the moral of the story is to take initiative and not be afraid of taking a stance on something and working your hardest to achieve an end! The administration here on campus is open to hear ideas, so take advantage of the open door policy.
Thanks for your time and go out there and get proactive! Check out Students for Global Change on Facebook!