Res Wars: Changing habits for tomorrow

Students must help to actively conserve energy in the residence halls.

Minnesota, we have a problem. This upcoming winter, some students will be bundling up in blankets and scarves to avoid draining more resources on heating and electricity costs, while some will be continuing their tradition of half-hour showers with the window open.

Rather than curse these students who enjoy long, warm showers and perfecting the balance, we need to understand why the situation persists and how to change it. Twin Cities landlord Jason Klohs accurately highlights that students in residence halls face no fear of higher energy costs. As Klohs puts it, “when kids aren’t paying the bill, then they don’t care and take 10-hour showers” (“Higher heating costs bring chill to tenants,” Nov. 2).

So why should the residence hall community care about this winter’s energy bills, especially when we’ve already paid for them? Klohs states that “the big issue is that kids don’t notice it until it hits them in the pocketbook.” Instead of waiting for a year from now to pull out your sweaters and scarves in panic, why not take the chance to learn while you’re still on training wheels?

This is the aim of “Res Wars,” the campaign waged by Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and the Residential Housing Association. As Emma Carew’s interview with the group’s Jen Nguyen outlines (“Competition pits residence halls against one another to save energy,” Nov. 1), we are simply asking students to make little changes to save energy, including turning off lights when not in use, setting computers to hibernate or sleep when idle and taking two minutes off their showers.

The residence hall that reduces energy consumption the most by percentage change from past energy bills will be announced as the winner in December. This announcement is not the ultimate reward. The thousands of dollars students can save across their lifetimes come from changing their habits while they are developing into young adults.

As 20th century French Jesuit Henri de Lubac warned, “Habit and routine have an unbelievable power to waste and destroy.” I sincerely invite the residence hall community, as well as the greater University community, to join us this November to change our habits and routines so that we may be prepared for the continuing rise in energy costs, both tomorrow and years from now.

Leo Kucek is the University’s MPIRG Co-Chairman. Please send comments to [email protected]