Candlelit Dinners at Proctor Miss Their Mark

Daniel Watson-Jones

Let me first say that when it comes to energy-use and the environment, my mind is as green as the next person’s. I wholeheartedly believe in the need to reduce the negative footprint that humans have on the natural world, and it’s important to me that we actively work to reverse the patterns of consumption and waste that have become so easy and familiar to us. However, I hate using candles to eat dinner and I think the larger goal of doing so is completely missed by those aiming for it.

My assumption is that the people advocating the use of candles (instead of the overhead lighting) during the dinner hours want to remind students of the energy usage that we often take for granted, and to draw attention to the many ways in which we can conserve on a daily basis. Instead, they inconvenience everyone and only service a gallant gesture that lacks substance or forethought. The overhead lights are left on for breakfast and lunch, the two meals of the day when natural light is actually available, and are turned off for the one third of meals when extra lighting is actually necessary. It makes no sense.

It’s not even that all the lights are turned off and replaced with the somewhat romantic and amusing atmosphere of candlelight; I enjoy the occasional change of pace as much as the next person.  Yet rather than turn them all off, only a portion of the fluorescents (and in Proctor they’re replaced by the less-efficient-but-dimmer emergency lights) are shut off, which turns the whole escapade into something worse than a gallant gesture: a half-assed gallant gesture. The final outcome is that all the good intentions behind the conservation movement come off as both irritating and irrational.

More importantly, when I drop my fork I can’t find it without groping around in the dark.


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