Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Northwestern Greeks Go Green

Green Cup gives Greek houses a chance to engage

By Kris Anne Bonifacio

Fraternity and sorority houses are cutting down and saving up this month as part of their inaugural Greek Green Cup.

The competition is run separately from Green Cup, organized by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, but the two groups will co-host the same events throughout the month.

Weinberg sophomores Matt Singer and Sam Wheeler, junior Anthony Valente and senior Chris Sell teamed up to organize Greek Green Cup.

“We took the concept of Green Cup and basically applied it to the Greek scene,” Singer said. “We want to see some more activity and enthusiasm from the Greek community about the environmental movement on campus.”

Greek Green Cup’s winner will be determined by which house is most sustainable, based on which fraternity or sorority has the lowest total water and electricity use per capita, Singer said. The competition will also operate on a “green points system,” under which houses will get points for member attendance at various events and for enacting various environmental initiatives.

At Alpha Epsilon Pi, , the brothers celebrated Tu B’Shevat, “basically Jewish Arbor Day,” before the start of Greek Green Cup, said Benjamin Singer, the fraternity’s Greek Green Cup representative.

“It’s basically a spiritual teaching moment for environmentalism,” the Communication senior said. “So we got points for that, by raising awareness amongst the brothers about becoming more sustainable.”

Greek Green Cup will award monetary prizes to the top two houses, Matt Singer said. The organization applied for various grants for the competition, and Singer said he estimates about $2,200 of the grant money will be designated for prize money. One of Greek Green Cup’s primary sponsors is the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern, Singer said.

He said he hopes the competitive setting will urge students to get more involved.

“It’s a good framework to get involved,” Singer said. “There are so many other philanthropic events that many Greek organizations do in which they compete against each other.”

Organizers of both Green Cup and Greek Green Cup said they hope students who participate in the event will continue their efforts to be more sustainable after the events are over.

“Part of it is to get people to think about how they use water and electricity and try to get them to change their habits,” said Phil Dziedzic, SEED’s Green Cup chairman.

The McCormick senior said SEED is still planning the award for this year’s winners, which are determined by a different scoring system from Green Cup’s Greek counterpart.

“We’re struggling with prizes this year,” Dziedzic said. “In the previous years, we’ve had a pizza party for the winning dorms, but it’s not really a good incentive. So right now, we might be offering a Ticketmaster gift card for the winning dorms.”

Students said the success of both competitions is up to the participants and how much effort they put in.

“Sometimes Green Cup just turns into, ‘How can we use energy not in the dorm?’” said Lindsey Kratochwill, Communications Residential College’s green chairwoman. “Some charge their laptops at the library, so while they’re not using it at the dorm, they’re using it somewhere else.”

The Medill sophomore said it is easy to become discouraged from other people’s apathy, but she still hopes students will make an effort.

“It’s difficult because there are always people who just don’t care,” Kratochwill said. “I still have some hope, though, that we can reach out to some people, and they will make even the smallest change.


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