Illinois universities turn off lights for ‘Earth Hour’

Cities worldwide spent an hour in the dark on Saturday night to celebrate Earth Hour, organized by the World Wide Fund For Nature. The event, which began in Sydney in 2007, has grown into a global sustainability movement. According to the Earth Hour Web site, the event’s goal is to get 1 billion people to switch off their lights.

Cities worldwide spent an hour in the dark on Saturday night to celebrate Earth Hour, organized by the World Wide Fund For Nature.

The event, which began in Sydney in 2007, has grown into a global sustainability movement. According to the Earth Hour Web site, the event’s goal is to get 1 billion people to switch off their lights.

Monuments worldwide, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Great Pyramids of Egypt, celebrated by turning off the power from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. Though many campuses in Illinois participated the event, the University did not.

“As far as I know, the University is not observing Earth Hour in any organized way,” said Suhail Barot, chair of the University Student Sustainability Committee. “The ECI (Environmental Change Institute) sent out an e-mail to their listserv about it, but that was it. I think our student groups aren’t doing anything because it’s break here.”

Other campuses, such as Illinois State University, did participate in the Earth Hour festivities. Freshmen housing employee Kevin Smith said the ISU dorms took part in the celebration by turning off all lobby lights. He said that he believed a lot of students in their dorm rooms participated also.

“Whatever floor had the most lights off won some sort of prize,” Smith said.

The University of Illinois at Chicago also participated in Earth Hour as a flagship campus of the event.

“Students were asked to turn off computers and unplug appliances prior to leaving for spring break last week,” said Cynthia Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability at UIC. “Wherever the students are tonight, they can participate with friends and family (by) turning off lights, having an Earth Hour party, looking up at the stars…playing games by candlelight, or replacing incandescent light bulbs with a compact fluorescents,” she said the day of the event.

Barot said he hoped the University would participate in the event in some way in the future.

“It would be great if we were involved in something like this, and if the administration took the lead,” he said.

Klein-Banai said she believed it was important for campuses involved in environmental movements like this to help spread the word.

“We feel that having small activities throughout the year that remind people about conservation and the environment is valuable,” she said.