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Students Endorse Carpooling to Reduce U. Rhode Island's Carbon Footprint

In hopes of reducing the University of Rhode Island's carbon footprint, sophomore Eric Mundorf and junior Nicole Grecco, members of Student Action for Sustainability, teamed up along with other URI students to start a carpool challenge.

In the beginning of February an invitation was sent out to URI students by the Student Sustainability Initiative asking for proposals to limit URI's ecological and carbon footprint on the world.

The initiative was backed by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald DeHayes, along with Student Affairs, Research and Economic Development and the URI Transportation Center.

DeHayes has a history of being environmentally conscious. According to Mundorf his past and passion for "going green" were a driving force in this initiative.

Mundorf's father, professor of communications studies Norbert Mundorf told his son he should write up a proposal. Mundorf along with fellow URI student William Frost completed and submitted a proposal for a carpool challenge.

Mundorf, who said he has always been environmentally conscious noted, "I just have an interest in the environment, I want to see URI be green and look good."

The carpool challenge will last two weeks, starting on April 13 and ending April 24.

Mundorf's project was specifically funded by the Transportation Center. Mundorf received $750 to hold this event. Much of the grant money went to incentives for students, including four iPod shuffles to be raffled off, and the rest to $3 subway coupons and advertisement costs.

All carpoolers will be able to park for free at the Fine Arts Center South lot, which Business Analyst for Business Services Lucas Lussier suggested. The organizing of the actual carpools is to be made by the participants. Upon arrival at the lot students will receive their free parking ticket along with their subway coupon.

The free parking and incentives are what Mundorf and his fellow carpoolers will be providing.

Many fliers have been placed around campus, and a Facebook event has been made under the title of "URI Carpool Challenge." Mundorf expects the Internet networking strategy will be the best avenue to reach the students about this opportunity. As of last night, 65 students had confirmed their attendance at this event, and another 80 had replied "maybe."

Mundorf is hoping to make the carpool lot permanent. If attendance is good—meaning a "full lot"—and students use the lot through the two-week trial period then he said there's a possibility of continuing the lot next year.

Grecco said, "With the time constraints this [project] is the easiest and most efficient way to accomplish our goal."

Grecco explained how the parking situation has been an issue along with the environmental aspects and this is a way to take care of both issues.

"It is always terrible to pay or find a spot," Grecco said. "It doesn't look good for URI."

Of all the proposals submitted to the Student Sustainability Initiative roughly 13 projects have been selected according Mundorf. All of these have to do with recycling, energy conservation and other forms of sustainability.

This story was filed by UWIRE, which offers reporting from more than 800 colleges and universities worldwide. Read more at www.uwire.com.