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UIS Green Fee Committee encourages project ideas

Photo from uis.edu/greenprojects/get-involved

Photo from uis.edu/greenprojects/get-involved

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This fall marked the first time UIS students had to pay a “green fee”—a $5 mandatory fee that some students and faculty hope will go toward making the campus more sustainable.

That money will go toward the UIS Green Fee Committee, a student-led initiative that hopes to spread environmental mindfulness and to fund eco-friendly projects, from a campus garden to solar-powered charging stations.

“It’s basically a Starbucks coffee a semester,” said sustainability project coordinator Levi Reed.

But, each student’s small contribution adds up, giving the UIS Green Fee Committee an annual budget of $20,000 to $30,000.

The money will primarily be used to fund projects proposed by UIS students. Once all the fees are collected, the committee will then vote, taking in mind what would benefit campus the most while remaining financially feasible.

“We recognize that UIS is a part of a larger community–planet earth,” said Ellyn Baker, student co-chair of the Green Fee Committee.  “And, our planet is sick. As part of a global effort, we encourage each other to take responsibility for preserving and restoring our local environment.”

The committee hopes to fund both short-term and long-term projects. Smaller projects would include volunteer events or recycling initiatives in campus housing. Larger projects are meant to create a lasting impact on campus and could be enjoyed for years to come. Examples could include an on-campus compost system or creating trails and bike paths connecting UIS to downtown.

“If you create a project that we decide to go with, it could be here for 20 to 30 years,” said Reed. “You can come back, and it will always be there, showing your lasting impact on campus.”

The initiative is meant to encourage students to highlight their creativity, while also meaningfully thinking about their relationship to the environment. Students are the ones proposing how they want to make a difference on campus; the Green Fee Committee is just the vehicle to turn those ideas into reality.  

“UIS students are developing the leadership and technical skills necessary for successful careers in a ‘greening’ economy, and they are extending our motto of ‘leadership lived’ in an environmental direction,” said Megan Styles, associate professor of environmental studies and a member of the committee. 

Students have until Nov. 20 to submit proposals via the green projects website. The first projects are set to be funded April 2018. 

“We must work as a species to forge new long-term solutions if we wish to continue enjoying our current quality of life,” said Baker. “Living sustainably means recognizing the intrinsic value of all lives; person, animal, ecosystem, or future generation, and choosing to live in a way that replenishes the natural systems responsible for supporting those lives.”

To submit a proposal or to learn more about the committee, visit uis.edu/greenprojects.

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UIS Green Fee Committee encourages project ideas