Carleton student stress patterns and the SRF Initial Proposal deadline: an informal study

14 January 2009

Here at the SRF Committee we realize the average Carleton student can be subjected to a fair bit of stress over the course of any given trimester.  We understand some students can be prone to an occasional feeling of reluctance when it comes to considering projects not absolutely, 100%, this-is-part-of-the-curriculum required by the college.  Fair point, life here can be busy.  But the stress situation at Carleton is not as simple and unceasing as one might think.  Rather, it is much like our neighbor the Cannon River, sometimes seething madly into the surrounding farmland, sometimes moving even and steady, experiencing droughts, creating small slip streams, and providing a home to copious quantities of invasive carps.

In recognition of this complexity, the SRF Committee has conducted a detailed analysis of student stress levels.  I drew the below graph to display our findings visually.

Student Stress Level by Term 

Not surprisingly, the week of “finals” is a mini stress tornado, and midterms provides its own small hoo-ha.  We recently experienced the squirminess of 1st week, which consists of things like trying to pay for books and then read them, and forgetting people’s names.  Look at the spaces between, however.  Looking at the gentle dip stretching from the second half of second week through third week is like listening to a good song.  When I see that dip I can’t help but hope a snowstorm would come and lay a great thick blanket over Northfield, MN, and then temperatures would plunge into the -50’s and remind us all how alive we are.  Yes!

It is in this heavenly stress dip that the SRF Committee has agreed to accept SRF Initial Proposals from students.  As the graph clearly shows, there is no other more opportune moment to tell us briefly about what energy consuming/creating, heating consuming/creating/losing, and fuel consuming processes on which you think Carleton could probably be doing a much better job.  Believe me, there are multitudes of eligible processes.  Answer the two questions on the Initial Proposal form (link, download) and email it to or fill it out via pencil or pen and campus mail it to Chris Erickson/ENTS Department.

The best part about this entire process?  You don’t really have to know what you’re talking about.  The SRF Committee, containing a Carleton faculty member and three Carleton staff members including a LEED-certified engineer, has agreed to read through your idea/proposal and tell you where to go next, how to determine if your project is feasible, and provide you with resources, human and non, that will help you achieve your project if you so desire.  Then the project will be yours!  People at Carleton will remember you!  You will have figurative ownership.  You will have a resume bullet item.

People, we are currently entering the veritable Bermuda Triangle of stress.  I am going to put the graph up again to drive home the point:

Student Stress Level by Term 

No time could be better.  Help green Carleton!  Help Carleton save money!  Let us hear your ideas and help you with your project!  On to the future!


More information about the Sustainability Revolving Fun can be found at the SRF Page, including an explanation for why the Carleton Facilities Department needs student help to complete these projects.