Letter to the Editor: Energy and assault on campus

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April 27, 2016

Concerning energy use on campus, back in 2008, the custodians in the academic buildings were moved from the overnight shift to the day shift in order to conserve the energy used at night. The FP&M Academic East Zone (in which I work) had a lead worker during the second shift who went around and turned off the hallway lights. After a few years that person retired and his position was never refilled. So for several years now, no one has been turning off the lights.

I understand the perspective that the students’ usage of energy can be changed, and that everyone should be responsible for how much energy they use. With that said, however, it is very clear from my perspective that the largest difference can be made by renovation decisions and their implementations.

I work in Upham Hall, so let’s take that as a quick example. A lot of hallway lights are on 24/7 due to what I mentioned above. Some of the hallway lights on the second floor are above a false ceiling blocking illumination which makes no sense. Halogen lights in study areas at the north and south ends are pretty useless and rather expensive. The east side on second floor gets a lot of sun and becomes incredibly hot during the summer so it would be a wonderful spot for shades, perhaps even solar panels. Solar panel possibilities include putting a “roof” over the dumpster area and/or over the steps on the west side (that lead to nowhere), and/or on the metal-roof side of the greenhouse. I could go on and on and this is just one building! The solutions are at our fingertips, we just need to have the right conversations and take action.

I also would like to respond to Kiandra Davis’ letter concerning sexual assaults on campus. I appreciate Ms. Davis starting a conversation – or more accurately, continuing the discussion – of an ongoing, complex topic. Several things should be noted in order to be able to continue the discussion.

Firstly, I completely agree that the reporting of sexual assaults is low and that people are afraid to come forward. But this is nothing new. Generally speaking, a lot of sexual assaults used to be accepted practice throughout our history as men dominated nearly every aspect of our society. Even though women have gained ground as equals in the last fifty years, we still live in a patriarchal society which assumes more blame on women than men.

Secondly, if I am not mistaken, the term “rape culture” hails back to the 1970’s when people were trying to raise awareness about the sexual violence against both men and women. Some feminists at the time thought that the shock and awe of exposing “rape culture” would unite more people to fight for gender equality. The notion that “rape culture” is new can be misleading when discussing sexual assaults.

And lastly, the fact is that we are simply failing at teaching our kids about sexual assault and consent and so they are ill-equipped for certain circumstances in college (and even high school).

However, we adults – especially employees of a college – can find ourselves trapped between the legal response and the humane response to a situation (or not knowing how to proceed at all).

Ms. Davis and others should continue the discussion and strive for a more educated and accountable society. Yes, new laws with good intentions are great, but we need to understand the history and educate each other in order to create a safer tomorrow.

Jeff Ehren
Custodian, UW-W