Green Games Return With Modifications
Issue   |   Wed, 02/18/2015 - 01:24

The Green Amherst Project will host its second annual Green Games next week. The Green Games are a competition between the first-year dorms to see which can be the most environmentally friendly. Winners will be determined by measuring dorms’ respective water, electricity and waste usage over the four-week duration of the event.

The Green Games, with a name inspired by the popular “Hunger Games” series, is intended to make a long-term impact on the usage of resources at the college and raise awareness of environmental issues on campus. Representatives, or “tributes,” will be selected from each first-year dorm to lead and organize the efforts of each dorm to win the competition.

Each week, the Green Games will hold dorm-wide challenges and monitor resource usage. Through these challenges, each dorm can collect points and be awarded a prize at the end of the four-week long event. Each week will seek to educate students about one of four different themes: food, electricity, waste and water.

The Green Amherst Project made several changes this year to how the Green Games would run. One of the major changes is the duration of the competition: It was shortened to four weeks from last year’s six.

“Many students found it hard to sustain commitment and enthusiasm across such a significant portion of the semester,” said Alexz Chalmers ’17, the member of the Green Amherst Project who will be heading the Green Games this year.

Additionally, the Green Amherst Project will aim to provide more support to the representative tributes from each first-year dorm. Last year, two tributes were selected for each dorm, which led to unequal organization methods and difficulties due to the widely varying sizes of different dorms.

“As an example, last year’s winner, Williston, is also the smallest of the first-year dorms,” Chalmers said. “It was easier for two students to organize in Williston than in Charles Pratt. This year, we seek to level the playing field by providing additional support and guidance for tributes.”

The Green Amherst Project also seeks to involve more students on an individual basis.

“We hope to provide a more comprehensive education ... on the potential individuals have to make a difference through their actions,” Chalmers said.

While she declined to provide specifics on the event, she said that students can earn more points for their dorms by attending visiting speakers’ talks and participating in events such as “Meatless Monday.”

According to Chalmers, the mixed responses to last year’s Green Games inspired many of these changes.

“Our goals are not quantitative, so it’s hard to measure success. Last year, some students had great experiences with the Games while others were unaware or uninterested,” she said.

Chalmers said the college’s administration was “wonderfully cooperative” and integral to the existence and execution of the Green Games.

“Campus Engineer Aaron Hayden manually takes the weekly meter readings that the Games are dependent upon,” she said. “The Director [of the Office of Environmental Sustainability], Laura Draucker, has helped with making specific endeavors possible.”

The partnership between the Green Amherst Project and the recently founded Office of Environmental Sustainability is also a change from last year. The Office of Environmental Sustainability was formed in fall 2014 to further environmental sustainability and sustainability awareness at the college.

The partnership between the Green Amherst Project and the Office of Environmental Sustainability has already begun.

“We have had several discussions with GAP about this and are happy to support them in any way we can,” Draucker said. “In fact, we are currently working with the [planning] squad to organize Green Game events related to recycling and waste diversion.”

In addition to making the first-year quad environmentally conscious and efficient, Draucker and Chalmers see the games as an opportunity to “build tradition and camaraderie in the first-year dorms,” Chalmers said.

Julie Xia ’17, a Green Amherst Project member and last year’s tribute from the North Dormitory, agreed that her experience in the Games created a tight-knit sense of community among the first-year students.

“I kept hearing stories about the freshmen dorms bonding over pulling pranks on each other,” Xia said.

“While we never got around to that, it was incredible how easy it was to get people to come together about environmental issues when it was presented as a chance to win at something,” she added.

Future changes for the Green Games include expanding the event to all dormitories, possibly by next year.

Chalmers said that the student-run group and the administration have already begun developing a system to this end. “This is a significant undertaking — financially and mechanically,” Chalmers said. “And without [administrative] support, it would probably be impossible for students to ask for it.”