Friday, October 30, 2009

Whitworth Sustainability Challenge encourages individual awareness, commitment

Dinner with Bill Robinson, $1,000 donation to Second Harvest, pizza party
up for grabs in friendly competition among students, employees

Whitworth University’s Fall Sustainability Challenge, Nov. 8-14, will offer students, faculty and staff a fun way to learn how individual decisions they make about recycling, food, energy, transportation and water to meet their needs affect the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

"I hope more students become aware of the changes that need to be made on campus and in their own lives in order to be a more eco-friendly school," says Katie Staudinger, a junior peace studies major who is president of the student environmental club Good Deeds for Trees. "I want students to realize how easy it is to make small changes that have big impacts in saving the planet. Additionally, it's our calling as Christians to be stewards of the creation that God made for us."

The challenge pits each of Whitworth’s residence hall communities, off-campus students, and faculty/staff against one another to determine who can do the most to learn about and promote sustainability. Participants can learn how to live more sustainably and win prizes by:

  • Taking the Whitworth sustainability pledge

  • Completing an online quiz that details one’s ecological impact

  • Submitting entries in poster and YouTube video contests promoting activities that make Whitworth a more sustainable campus

  • Taking part in Prime Time sustainability activities in the residence halls each night of the challenge. Activities will include guest speakers, videos, games, discussions and opportunities to create and view entries in the poster and YouTube video contests.

Details of the sustainability challenge are available on Whitworth’s website at www.whitworth.edu/sustainabilitychallenge.

The group with the highest point total by the end of the week will be able to choose from the following prizes: a formal dinner hosted by Bill Robinson, a pizza party during finals week or a $1,000 donation to Second Harvest food bank made in honor of the winners. The winner of the sustainability poster contest will receive an iPod and the winner of the YouTube video contest will receive a Flip video camera. All of the prizes are provided by Sodexo from savings created when Whitworth’s students voted to remove trays from the dining hall to reduce food waste.

The challenge is organized by the Presidential Planning Commission’s sustainability sub-committee, which was established to identify and prioritize activities that should be undertaken to make the campus more sustainable. The sub-committee has identified short- and long-term goals for education/curriculum, research operations, and external communications/outreach. These goals, as well as sustainability initiatives already undertaken by the university, are outlined on Whitworth’s website at: www.whitworth.edu/sustainability. Recent sustainability initiatives include plans to construct a $31.7 million biology/chemistry building to meet LEED silver requirements for green building and operations, a board endowment committee decision to invest $2.5 million in clean technologies, completion of a comprehensive carbon audit of university operations and sustainability challenges to raise campus awareness.

"The point of the sustainability challenge is to help people see the little things that they can do to make a big difference toward sustainability," says Patrick Van Inwegen, associate professor of political science and co-chair of Whitworth’s sustainability sub-committee. "I hope that by participating in the challenge, people will be more conscious consumers and have a better sense of how their actions affect those around them. Our consumption of natural resources increasingly comes at the expense of the rest of the world. We have a mission of following Christ, whose life exemplified caring for the poor and marginalized in society."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Patrick Van Inwegen, associate professor of political science, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4844 or pvaninwegen@whitworth.edu.

Greg Orwig, director of university communications, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.