Week Without Wheels is flawed, but promising


The Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC) have recently enacted a new sustainability plan to help commit members of Greek life to more sustainable living.

Week Without Wheels is a program that encourages members of Greek houses to drive less thus reducing carbon output.

The program is a great start in encouraging students to be more actively aware about sustainable living, but could take more significant steps to be more effective.

Conceptually, it is a good idea because it recognizes that students can be more sustainable, and it targets an area that can be easily improved.

The current implementation, however, does not encourage students to take drastic enough changes to truly make a difference, making it more powerful in message than in actual change effected.

The first thing that can be improved is the consistency that it provides.

Currently, every other week is a week without wheels. This is great because it means theoretically students are driving less than half the days out of a given month.

This week-on, week-off system, however, eliminates any potential for long-term change amongst students because it makes it nearly impossible to create the good habit of not driving.

In an extensive study done by the research-oriented psychologist  James Dean, he found that three weeks is the minimum time to create a habit.

These habits that take three weeks to develop are simple ones, such as drinking a glass of water after breakfast.

More complicated habits, and habits that take more commitment such as exercise and health eating can take months, even the better part of a year.

Week Without Wheels would be better off finding a solution to frequent student driving that encouraged students to not drive every day.

One of the most fundamental changes that should be instituted in order to make the program successful in terms of truly reducing students’ carbon footprints is the proposed distance.

As it stands, the Weeks Without Wheels only suggests students not drive within a four block area around campus.

This is flawed because it automatically excludes numerous students from the program, and doesn’t cut out enough car trips.

I believe it should be more ambitious in its scope.

In order to truly be effective, there needs to be an improvement both in the way Weeks Without Wheels keeps track of students driving and not driving, and how they keep students accountable.

Firstly, there is no baseline with which to compare.

There should be a study that determines how many people live what distance from campus, and how often they make that drive.

Next, there needs to be a better tracking system.

It’s a madhouse when my fraternity “keeps track of” those who didn’t drive during the week.

Everyone holds up a finger for the number of days during the week they didn’t drive.

Then we scramble and try to count.

The resulting number is one that has very little meaning because there is nothing to compare it against, and nothing to account for members who either aren’t at chapter, or who live too far away to technically be a part of the program.

Finally, there’s no accountability built into the program.

How can we be sure that every raised hand was truthful? Or, what if they didn’t drive four days out of the week, but the fifth day made five trips between their house and the S.U.B. by car?

There are certain things that should be targeted directly by this program.

Likely, a major goal is to keep students from driving from Greek row to the S.U.B.

It’s a quarter mile walk that takes five minutes, or a nearly mile long drive that takes almost the same amount of time.

I think an integral part of Weeks Without Wheels should be an attempted elimination of driving trips between the S.U.B. and Greek row.

Weeks Without Wheels is a catchy name but inherently flawed because skateboards and bikes, some of the best alternatives to driving also use wheels.

It is thrilling that this program is up and running.

Even if it barely influences our carbon footprint, at least it gets students thinking about more sustainable living.

The program would be much better served by being more ambitious and more specific, and accounting for the location of each student and how they commute.