SU employee Don Wagner kicks off Campus Commuter Challenge with walking, kayaking, sailing, biking commute to campus
SU employee Don Wagner kicks off Campus Commuter Challenge with walking, kayaking, sailing, biking commute to campusSeptember 14, 2007Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Don Wagner, instructional technology analyst at Syracuse University, lives 45 miles from campus, but on Monday, Sept. 24, he’s taking the Campus Commuter Challenge and leaving his car at home. Setting out the day before, he will walk and kayak to Sylvan Beach on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake, and then sail his 26-foot sailboat to Bridgeport. From there, he will ride his bicycle to work at SU, where he manages the multimedia labs for The College of Arts and Sciences, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), where he teaches professional writing.
Wagner’s arrival on campus will help kick off the Campus Commuter Challenge, sponsored by the SU Office of Academic Affairs, which begins Sept. 24 and runs through Oct. 24. The Campus Commuter Challenge is a friendly competition between 24 schools, colleges and administrative divisions of SU and SUNY-ESF to encourage employees to try more sustainable transportation options than driving alone to work. There will be a reception on campus for anyone who rides a bike, walks, carpools or takes the bus to work that day, and there will be prizes for the school/division of SU or SUNY-ESF with the highest percentage of employees who leave their cars at home at least once during the challenge.
“I enjoy hiking, kayaking, sailing, etc., so when I heard about the Campus Commuter Challenge, I thought I’d try to combine several fun, ecological ways to transport myself to campus,” says Wagner, who will be commuting from Blossvale. “I believe it’s important that each of us becomes more conscious about
how we overshoot our ecological footprint daily — by the water we use, the energy we waste, the air we pollute, etc. Overall, it is the ecological demands that we have to think about as we consume Earth’s resources every day. I believe the Challenge will help me and others exhibit to what extent humans can go to help re-balance our overdrawn expense account with the environment.”
A team captain in each administrative unit will encourage co-workers to participate. Using a simple tool, employees will be able to log information about their regular commutes and if/when they try an alternative. The University Sustainability Action Coalition, which is organizing the challenge, will provide tools to assist employees in finding alternative ways to commute. Bus schedules, bicycle maps and on-campus bicycle repair clinics will be available, as will assistance with setting up carpool groups. Team and individual prizes include a car-free getaway to Niagara Falls, tickets to local events and bicycle equipment.
Reducing automobile use has many benefits, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions, alleviating campus parking congestion, saving money on gas, improving air quality, reducing noise and traffic, and reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Alternative transportation modes also have benefits, including physical exercise, building community, and reducing road rage and stress.
The challenge is modeled on similar programs across the continent, with the goal of encouraging people to discover alternatives to driving alone to work. The SU/ESF University Sustainability Action Coalition (http://usac.syr.edu) is organizing this effort, with the support of the SU Office of Academic Affairs, as part of a broader effort to reduce the universities’ impact on global warming and to promote more sustainable campuses.
Full information on how to participate is available at http://enspire.syr.edu/CCC.