November 30, 2010

‘Innovation Group’ Lets Students Borrow Umbrellas

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Cornell’s Student Innovation Group wants to help shield students from the damp Ithaca weather by distributing umbrellas on campus for students to borrow while walking between classes or to the library.

The shipment of 50 umbrellas stamped with the SIG logo will arrive this week, according to SIG Chairman Matthew Koren ’12, who said the “Umbrella Initiative” would be in place by the time students return from winter break next month.

The group will place umbrellas in bins in 14 central campus locations, including Goldwin Smith Hall, Olin Library and Trillium Express.

Koren, a transfer student from Bucknell University, said he was inspired by a similar initiative at his previous school, and he speculated that the weather in Ithaca would make Cornell an even better location for such a project.

“The project was a huge success at Bucknell, and so I’m sure it could be a huge hit here with the unpredictable Ithaca weather,” Koren said. “The idea is to have umbrellas in the entrance ways of the major buildings on campus so students can grab them in the event of a flash rainstorm.”

The SIG plans to order more umbrellas next semester if the project proves popular.

Koren expressed hope that students would abide by the “honor system” and return the umbrellas to bins when they left central campus, rather than taking them back to dorms or off campus.

He said the distinctive, bright orange design of the umbrella — emblazoned with the words “Keeping You Dry” — is intended to discourage people from not returning them.

“We actually designed them to be quite obnoxious looking so that students won’t steal them,” he said.

The umbrellas were purchased by SIG, with funding from a partnership with Bling Nation, a technology company that introduced a method to purchase items using cellphones in several Collegetown businesses this semester.

Kimberly Chen ’13, vice president for public relations for SIG, said that the umbrella project is part of the group’s commitment to improve students’ lives through creativity.

“The reason why we are doing this is because it is part of SIG’s mission to find ways to improve student life on campus,” she said. “As we are all in Ithaca and have experienced the extremely unpredictable weather, we found that students will actually benefit a lot from this idea.”

Original Author: Eliza LaJoie