UIS students to vote on green fee

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John Kurecki, Features Writer

At the Feb. 21 Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, the organization voted to approve a student vote on a proposed green fee. If students vote in favor of the fee, then the resolution would move to the Board of Trustees.

If the student body approves the fee in April, the earliest possible implementation would be in April of 2017. The student body’s vote is only a recommendation; a majority affirmation of the resolution will result in a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who will then chose to approve or deny the fee.

At the Jan. 31 SGA meeting, then-Interim Internal Vice President Duane Malaney stated that the purpose of the fee is “to provide sustainability on campus, [and] to reduce waste and our carbon footprint.”

The initial green fee would start at $5 per semester, with the SGA being able to approve raises up to $8 per semester. The proposal claims to create revenue between $20,000 and $30,000 per year.

While the proposed fee would be mandatory, students would have the ability to receive a refund. Both other main University of Illinois campuses currently implement a similar fee.

The University of Illinois describes Urbana-Champaign’s Sustainable Campus Environment Fee as “A fee to help establish sustainable campus environment by financing initiatives such as green buildings, engagement of the University community, recycling, energy efficiency, and environmentally responsible purchasing.”

Malaney estimated that around 10 percent would be used for short-term projects undertaken by student organizations, 25 percent would go to part-time student workers, and 65 percent would go toward projects on campus.

Examples of projects that could be impacted by this fee include more recycling bins, an on-campus compost system, and a solar panel charging station, among others.

According to Malaney, students will also be able to propose uses of the collected funds.

“Any student can bring up a project; they can reach out to the subcommittee when they meet and then they could designate a time where they could propose a project that they would like to see on campus,” Malaney stated at the Jan. 31 SGA meeting.

The proposal published by the SGA states, “These fees fund projects related to environmental sustainability initiatives on-and-off campus. Introducing this charge will provide critical funding necessary to improve UIS’ commitment to sustainability and will bring us in line with our sister campuses.”

UIS Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Dr. Megan Styles, a major proponent of the resolution, said, “The proposal is really wonderful because the green fee will be used to fund projects that are developed, proposed, and vetted by students.”

Styles argues that the fee is a chance for students to make a concrete difference, stating, “The green fee is really a pure expression of our campus motto – Leadership Lived. UIS is a campus of pro-active, action-oriented, passionate students; passing this green fee will allow you to pool your resources and work together to bring UIS the recognition it deserves for training the next generation of environmental leaders.”