It’s no secret that Oklahoma Christian University has gone through some financial troubles in the past couple years. After several terms of being in the black, the economic turmoil raging throughout the United States finally caught up with the campus.
So, tuition gets raised year after year. The cost of housing goes up. Students pay more for school than they did when they were freshmen, yet items continue to be cut from the budget. It begs the question – what does the university spend most of its money on? Well, they have to keep the lights on somehow.
Utilities are one of the highest budget items for Oklahoma Christian. In 2015, the school spent over a million dollars on electricity alone, which doesn’t include water or natural gas. With that, the price shoots up to almost a million and a half dollars.
Why should students care? The school is a big place, with 782 apartments and dorms to and several more classrooms, offices and buildings to keep lit. It’s a budget item that can’t be deleted. But even if the cost might always be a big one, maybe we, the students of Oklahoma Christian, can help.
I know I’m guilty of running up the bill. I leave my room in a hurry and in my rush, leaving several lights on in a now unoccupied apartment. I’m usually gone all day, effectively costing the school for eight plus hours of unneeded electricity.
Think about that for a minute – with 782 rooms on campus, if each person left their lights on during the 30 minutes they’re gone for chapel, that is 23,460 minutes of unneeded energy consumption, paid for by your cost of room and board (which, need I remind you, keeps going up).
According to Kinney Bryant, executive director of university services, if the amount spent on utilities were to decrease in some capacity, it would help Oklahoma Christian’s overall budget.
That means turning off your lights for 30 minutes could save you on tuition in the future, keep your favorite professor with a job or possibly improve the university’s future housing developments.
Turning off your lights when you’re not in your room isn’t the only thing that can help. Students can cut down on their shower length, do laundry every other week instead of every week, do more clothes in one load of laundry or combine their laundry with their roommates, just to name a few.
Students can also help by turning off their electronics when they aren’t in use. Those students with game consoles on in their rooms run the university $9.86 a year. That might not seem like much, but if 1,000 students were to own a console, Oklahoma Christian would spend $3,280.
Mini fridges are also a large drain on the budget, costing $12,000 a year per 1,000 students. According to university services, it is not uncommon to see a mini fridge per each student in a single room – if these students combined their fridges; it would save $36 a year per fridge.
Students aren’t the only ones that can help, though. Professors can turn off their Smart Boards between each class or turn the lights off around their department when rooms aren’t in use.
The school is also making changes to save money and energy. Each new building project will be equipped with LED energy-efficient dimming lights. Though these are initially costly, in the long run the switch will save money.
The lights on the Eagle Trail are also helping the cause as the lampposts turn off during times of higher light, and each post has energy-efficient bulbs. Each month, the university spends a total of $26 on keeping the trail safe and lit.
If the campus could come together and become more conscious about our energy consumption, we could help the university get back to the black. Flipping a light switch might not seem like a big deal, but it could end up making all the difference in the world.
Leah is a senior at Oklahoma Christian University.