Two students in masks stand on Founders Green holding plants

A Distanced Do It In The Dark

The campus-wide initiative found new ways to raise awareness and diligence about energy consumption this March.

Despite challenges posed by COVID-19, Haverford’s annual Do It In The Dark competition returned to campus for the month of March. 

Do It in the Dark (DIITD) is a campus-wide competition to see which dorm can reduce their energy emissions the most over a three-week period. Haverford’s Committee for Environmental Responsibility (CER) hosts the challenge and usually partners with clubs and organizations around campus to hold fun events that raise awareness about energy and consumption. 

The energy-reduction competition portion remained the same this year. But CER came up with new ways to promote the competition and have fun while adhering to COVID safety precautions and including the many people studying remotely.

They held larger outdoor events, including a planting workshop, a tie-dye workshop, a sustainable Dining Center dinner, and a clothing swap in place of events like glow-in-the-dark frisbee or comedy shows. 

“I think our campaign’s working group did a great group of thinking outside the box on how to revamp the process, and I’m especially proud of our new members who really stepped up,” said CER and DIITD co-head Johanna Batterton ’21. “We consolidated the number of events we held, but I think they were much more well attended than in previous years.”

Students sitting in front of Founders Hall on a sunny day
Students gathered socially distanced at events like the Tie-dye workshop. Photo by Arshiya Bhayana ’22

They also involved students off-campus through the Meatless Challenge. The Meatless Challenge started as a way to involve students staying in the apartments with DIITD, since individual apartments’ energy consumption cannot be measured on the energy dashboard the way the other dorms’ can. It challenges students to reduce meat consumption and other animal products in their meals. At the end of the three weeks, the apartment who ate the most vegetarian and vegan meals wins. This year, students off-campus were able to participate from across the globe. 

CER also launched an eco-friendly cookbook with recipes and information about energy consumption in the food industry. 

“The cookbook was one of our ideas that was intended to try to connect with the remote community as well as the students on campus,” said Batteron. “We know that the energy consumption of the food industry is often unnoticed, so we wanted to make a vegetarian/vegan cookbook with some background information to give people context as to why talking about food is so vital when discussing the environment.”

The cookbook featured a microwavable section for students living in the dorms and highlighted ingredients that LIFTFAR eligible students can find at the Nest, Haverford’s student-run food pantry. 

Recipe for Vegan Pho with Tofu
One of the vegan recipes from the Committee for Environmental Responsibility’s new cookbook.

It wasn’t just the challenge, but also the results, that looked a little different this year.

“For the first time in at least the last four years, a non-first-year hall claimed the title of DIITD champion this year,” said other DIITD co-head Johnluca Fenton ’21. “Kim Hall took home the victory with an impressive 27.2% reduction in total energy use over the span of the three-week competition.” 

Tritton finished in second place with a 26.8% reduction and Gummere finished third after reducing their energy consumption by 22.1%. 

“Even though COVID limits the way in which we can interact with one another on campus, I feel as though this DIITD was the most engaged with that I’ve seen over my last three years on CER,” said Batterton. “I think moving forward, we can do even more in regards to education about energy use and the intersectionality of environmentalism. I hope that in the future when we can table at the DC and be in more congregational spaces, we will be able to amplify this educational piece.”

Graphic showing the level of energy reductions.
Overall, the residence halls reduced 16.6% of their energy usage over three weeks during the challenge.

The goal of DIITD is to raise awareness and passion for environmental issues, but CER’s co-heads urge that effective action must extend further. To respond to the climate crisis, larger systemic change needs to happen at Haverford and across the world.

“To us, DIITD is a campaign to raise in our community to continue to care enough to take impactful systemic action,” said Fenton. “CER’s systemic changes working group has a lot of great momentum and has been taking on larger scale projects that can increase our student body’s environmental impact at least at our institutional level.”