Macalester declares war on 14 Minnesota campuses

By Emily Howland

When the lights in the
campus center were suddenly shut off around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
evening, students eating in Café Mac did not know they were
experiencing the kickoff event of Campus Wars, a statewide
competition to save energy started by Macalester students.

For the month of Feb.,
14 Minnesota colleges and universities, including the University of
Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus and Carleton College, will battle to
conserve the most energy based on electricity and heating
measurements. Organized by the Macalester Conservation and Renewable
Energy Society (MacCARES) and the Minnesota Public Interest Research
Group (MPIRG), Campus Wars is an expansion of last year’s Dorm
Wars, in which Macalester Dorms competed to conserve the most energy.“This involves the
entire campus in an institutional effort to fight global warming,”
said Timothy Den Herder-Thomas ’09, co-chair of MacCARES.

Colleges are competing
for the greatest percent reduction in campus energy use in
electricity and heating during Feb. 2007 as compared with the
three-year average consumption at that campus during the last three
Februarys.

“It’s a really
exciting way for very different student bodies and administrations to
get behind the same cause and work together,” Louise Sharrow ’09
said. Sharrow is the co-chair of MPIRG and has helped organize Campus
Wars.

The launching of Campus
Wars is part of a nationwide week of conservation organized by the
Energy Action Coalition, an alliance of organizations that empower
youth to fight global warming.

The week is the largest
mobilization of student climate and energy activists in history, with
around 570 schools involved.

Organizers got the
support of President Rosenberg, who sent an invitation to other
schools to participate in the event.

Will Steger, a polar
explorer and global warming activist from Minnesota, has backed the
event.

“I am excited to
support Campus Wars since the initiative is student-directed and
inspires action on multiple levels – raising awareness, promoting
energy conservation and institutional change,” he said. “College
youth play a huge role in changing the way we think and act to reduce
global warming pollution and promote real clean energy solutions.

They are the next generation of pioneers.”
Sharrow said she thinks
that Campus Wars could have a concrete effect in energy conservation.

“If 14 schools can
save five percent of their energy then that can make a real
difference,” she said. “It’s a chance for people to consider
their habits. If you spend a month changing your habits you might
make a difference.” Den Herder-Thomas said Campus Wars is the
largest collaborative effort in the nation for the week of action.

“It’s hard working
with a lot of people who haven’t done big collaborative efforts,”
he said.

Den Herder-Thomas and
organizers began collaborating with other campuses in September. He
said he looks forward to building a base of climate leaders with many
of the participants, as well as hundreds of other youth leaders at
the Midwest Climate Action Conference in Madison, Wisc. Mar. 2.

Various events
dedicated to energy conservation will take place on campus throughout
the month of February along with the Campus Wars. Results for the
competition will be collected in March.