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TCU Magazine

In April, students participated in the second annual "Tour de Frogs" road rally to promote environmental awareness and TCU's Purple Bike Program. Participants stopped at four stations along the course to answer environmental questions on recycling and pollution.

By Kathryn Hopper

Keith Whitworth could easily be considered TCU's Kermit the Frog. The affable sociology instructor is out to prove it is easy to be green.

His class "Sustainability is Sexy" draws about 100 students a semester who learn from varying sources about the importance of reducing their carbon footprints. In each class, he challenges them to find ways to encourage living lighter on the planet.

This spring, his students filled the Student Center Ballroom with innovative ideas such as handing out "sustainability survivor kits" to incoming freshman, complete with a set of compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use less energy than conventional bulbs. They also produced videos showcasing green efforts on campus jazzed up to the tunes of Radiohead and Queen.

A couple of years ago students came up with an idea for a Purple Bike program that became a reality. It allows students, faculty and staff to check out and ride purple cruisers around campus instead of driving. The program began with five bikes funded with a $4,085 Vision in Action Grant and grew to 49 bikes.

Whitworth said when Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. heard there was a waiting list for new bikes, he found a donor to fund 10 new bikes this year. The new additions offer a male-style frame with narrower handle bars - a bit buffer than the previous style, which some students likened to Pee-wee Herman's beloved cruiser.

Whitworth's vision is to have 500 purple bikes and he's asking for donations, corporate sponsorships or "carbon offsets" to fund the program, which costs $500 per bike including basket, lock, helmet and monthly maintenance. Donations can be made at www.envirofootprint.org.

"It gives people a very easy way to go green," he said. "It's a win-win for everyone."

Comment at tcumagazine@tcu.edu.