Slivka Residential College sits in darkness. The hallways lie shrouded in black, all the lights turned off. Only the blue hue of a nearby Pepsi machine illuminates the dim dorm halls.
This time last year the Slivka hallways were just as dark, as the dorm dominated the first annual Green Cup. The Green Cup competition, put on by the Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED) to see which dorm could reduce the amount of energy they use over a two-week period, earned the dorm a literally green trophy and a pizza party. Slivka hopes to repeat the energy-saving feat for the second Green Cup competition, going on until the end of this week.
“We send out one or two e-mails a day about Green Cup,” Slivka president Erick Bennett said. “We have to go for the win.”
The McCormick sophomore sits in a darkened lounge, all the lights off to help the eco-friendly effort. He said besides sending out e-mails, Slivka has been turning off most of its lights when not in use and urging residents to take quicker showers. Bennett said the newest innovation is a clothesline in the nearly-pitch black laundry room.
“A lot of students aren’t doing laundry over the two weeks,” he said. “But if they do, they can hang their clothes instead of using the dryers.”
These new tactics have replaced several strategies used to capture the cup last year.
“We had a lot of little reminders around the dorm,” former Slivka president Gillian Hsieh said.
The Weinberg senior said she and the rest of the Slivka executive board went around the dorm and taped up slips of paper labeled with energy-conservation tips. Bennett said he had the environment in mind when he abandoned this approach this year.
“It’s a wasting of paper things,” he said.
Bennett and Hsieh said they are both doing their part to take the Green Cup title. The current president has turned off any unnecessary lights when he sees them, while his predecessor said she has been printing out all her assignments at Tech.
A few Slivka residents are sacrificing even more to try to win the Green Cup.
“Some people said they weren’t going to shower the whole two weeks,” Bennett said. “At the very least, people are showering in the dark.”
The president said most people don’t go to such drastic measures to save energy. He said most dorm residents don’t shift their entire schedule to accommodate the Green Cup, but rather adopt certain energy-saving habits into their daily lives.
Not all the rooms in the dorm are powered-down, for that matter. On the first floor, the recreational room glows compared to the rest of the warehouse-like building. All the lights shine brightly, and McCormick freshman Jeff Cohen watches a movie while sprawled out on a couch and eating Chipotle. Last year’s Green Cup trophy sits prominently on a nearby table.
“People in Slivka don’t force us to do anything,” he said, his gaze breaking away from the screen. “Some people are really into it, others are against it.”
Cohen said he falls more on the less-interested side. He said he doesn’t mind seeing all the dorm suites shrouded in darkness, but he also isn’t going to cut back on his TV consumption.
He said his biggest gripe with the Green Cup is how pointless it seems.
“It’s a noble attempt,” he said. “But does one or two weeks really make that big a difference?”
Sophomore Tinlee Lin echoes Cohen’s thoughts. The McCormick student feels that the two-week competition probably doesn’t make a huge impact on the environment and also doesn’t foster long-term conservation skills in students.
“A long-run sort of competition would help more,” she said. “They should extend it.”
Still, Lin said she supports the Green Cup. Her dorm room lights remain off, the only lights visible the glow of her computer screen. She has turned the temperature on the fridge up, and won’t do laundry until the competition is over. “I rarely do it anyway,” she said with a laugh. “It can wait a while.”
Lin said Slivka has mixed up its energy-saving strategy for 2007. Unlike last year, she said, the e-mail messages between dorm residents have become more discussion-oriented.
“It’s more of a debate now,” she said. “Some people are gung-ho.”
Lin said she thinks the Green Cup competition offers a good way to get involved in energy conservation and have a good time.
Even with all the positive energy going into the Green Cup, some still said the event could be put on at a better time.
“The lessons learned from last year’s Green Cup stayed until the end of the year, but then they forgot,” Hsieh said. “It would be more effective in Fall Quarter. Maybe for a month. The longer you do it, the better habits you develop.”
Despite these perceived problems, Bennett said the event has been successful in getting the word out about environmental consiousness.
“It looks like it’s working,” he said as the sunlight creeping in the windows disappears, making the room even darker. “The students are doing it themselves. They are self-motivated.”