Almost half of SPU’s student body commutes to campus. Have you ever wondered how all of that time getting to and from campus contributes to overall student wellness and SPU’s environmental footprint? Over the last few months, we’ve collected a bit of data to find out.
In terms of happiness, studies connect commuting to lower rates of well-being, physical exercise, political activity, and life satisfaction as well as higher levels of emotional and relational stress. At the same time, some studies have found that the happiest commuters are those who walk, cycle, or take the train to work. In addition to increasing happiness, fewer greenhouse gas emissions are emitted into the environment by commuters who are able to take advantage of these options. If you’re a commuter unable to walk or cycle, consider carpooling or taking public transportation even a few times throughout the year to decrease your eco-footprint – every bit helps. Additionally, be sure to check out the resources offered by SPU’s wellness initiative!
As far as environmental footprint goes, commuting mileage has a bigger institutional impact than one might think. In 2011, faculty and staff commuting made up 6% and student commuting accounted for 23% of our total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. To continue our efforts in effectively measuring and lowering SPU’s GHG emissions, we conduct an annual Student Commute Survey.
This year, 623 of the 2,469 commuter students provided valuable feedback via SurveyMonkey. Generally, there has been an overall increase in commute distance for both undergraduate and graduate students. Use of public transportation has increased since 2010 and walking or biking is still an easy mode of transport for mostly undergrad students. Carpooling or van-pooling is still not used by many students, even with the reduced parking passes ($70/2-person car, free for 3-person car) offered to carpoolers.
Student input added significant insights to our survey. Although some students were unaware of the resources offered to carpoolers, public transportation users, and cyclists, many students offered additional suggestions including:
- free ORCA passes
- improving SPU’s commuter parking options
- coordinating shuttles or carpools
As commutes get longer and cost of living (and schooling) increases, it’s going to take a conscious effort on the part of SPU and commuters to implement effective programs and incentives that contribute to greater environmental stewardship and student wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Scroll on for more highlights from the survey and be sure to comment below with any questions or feedback!