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Lights were switched off in a symbolic gesture of concern for the environment

For one hour on March 28, lights all around the Connecticut College campus were switched off in a symbolic gesture intended to raise awareness about climate change.

At 8:30 p.m., the College participated in Earth Hour 2009, a global event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) that encourages individuals, organizations and city governments to turn off their lights for one hour.

The initiative, spearheaded on campus by Chris Krupenye '11 and the College's Renewable Energy Club, was endorsed by Connecticut College President Leo I. Higdon, Jr.

"Our students are committed to environmental issues, and I am pleased to support them in this important initiative," President Higdon said. "Connecticut College has a long history of environmental education and activism. Participating in Earth Hour supports our commitment to sustainability."

Students were encouraged to turn off non-essential and decorative lights for the entire hour and lights in many of the campus's main buildings, including the library, the main dining hall and much of the student center. Essential and safety lighting remained on.

A designated "flagship" campus, Connecticut College became the first college in the northeast to agree to go dark for the cause. Flagship campuses have the support of the administration and commit to promoting climate conscious decisions.

In 2008, more than 50 million people, including an estimated 36 million in the U.S., participated in Earth Hour, according to WWF. Lights even went out at some of the world's most recognizable landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Sears Tower, Sydney Opera House and Golden Gate Bridge. This year, 2,500 cities in 82 countries agreed to participate, and the lights went out at the Gaza Pyramids in Egypt, the Acropolis in Athens, the Broadway Theater District and the Seattle Space Needle.

In addition to encouraging students to turn off their lights, Krupenye organized a candlelight demonstration on Tempel Green. Students, he said, used candles to create the shape of a light bulb, then "extinguished" the light bulb and reorganized to form the number 60, representing each minute the lights were off.

"This act will send a message to policy-makers around the world that we are committed to legislation that addresses climate change," Krupenye said.

April 16, 2009