While most group projects end in a class presentation, Eleanor Ayres said she hopes her project will have a bigger impact – convincing USF President Judy Genshaft to ride a Bull Runner for the first time.
Ayres, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy, and her three group members decided to take on a project that would raise awareness of alternative forms of transportation for their Honors Applied Ethics course, taught by Director of the Office of Sustainability Christian Wells.
“Our projects had to be something that would promote sustainability,” Ayres said. “There are a lot of different options available on campus. Student commuting is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gasses on campus.”
Ayres said the group realized that the Bull Runner system is one of the most under-utilized transportation alternatives the campus has to offer.
“A lot of students who don’t use the Bull Runner don’t know a lot about it,” she said. “There are lots of students who don’t realize all the different routes available, who just drive instead.”
Bull Runners run on biodiesel, a renewable energy source. They also offer students five different routes that stop at various points on campus and extend to the University Mall area.
Ayres, who said she rides a Bull Runner daily, said she hopes Genshaft will set a precedent for students by using the available on-campus transportation system herself.
The group has created a petition, available online at petitiononline.com/ru1k5ia, to request that Genshaft ride a Bull Runner for one day. If the petition gets 1,000 signatures, Genshaft has agreed to take a tour around campus on Bull Runner Route A, which will leave from near the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, Ayres said.
“We thought it would be a good way to attract attention to the Bull Runner,” Ayres said. “(Genshaft) is sort of a celebrity on campus. A lot of students will see this and be intrigued by it. It will draw attention to the fact that the Bull Runner is a viable form of transportation.”
Ayres said the petition currently has 145 student signatures and hopes to reach 1,000 before their class ends in May. However, the project will continue if that deadline is not met.
Ayres said that according to Wells, the president has never ridden a Bull Runner before.
Jonathan Hunt, a student in the School of Music, is among a few who have left personal messages for Genshaft alongside their signatures.
“I think it’s a little strange that there is a house on campus where you can live and you could cost zero damage to the environment by riding the (Bull Runner) or the city (bus),” Hunt’s message states. “Not to mention that you would be communicating with students and community members on a daily basis.”
Several others, such as philosophy student Scott Howard, have called upon Genshaft to experience what the average student does on a daily basis.
“(The Bull Runner) really isn’t that bad!” his message states. “It’s like a Lexus, only bigger!”
Group project member Marcela Yepes, a senior majoring in accounting, said she now plans on using the Bull Runners regularly. If other students choose to do so as well, they can help create a more ecologically sustainable campus, she said.
“We’re trying to help USF become more environmentally friendly,” she said. “We want to show all the forms of transportation USF has to offer. (Genshaft) can show students how she’s participating (in making the campus environmentally friendly). She’s a person a lot of people look up to. She can be a role model.”
Yepes said the group will have booths set up during Wednesday’s Bull Market and in front of the Library Thursday to distribute informational fliers to students.
“People can learn about fun facts,” she said. “Like how many more calories it burns to walk as opposed to driving.”
To the group members, Ayres said the grade of environmental quality that could be potentially achieved on campus is more important than the grade they receive on the project.