The Student-Led Green Fee Initiative

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The Student-Led Green Fee Initiative


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Every year, UIS is gifted with new sustainable additions to the campus. As a part of the Green Fee Committee’s initiative to support sustainable growth, they select a variety of projects to fund every January. Recently I was able to speak to some of the authors about the green initiatives that they selected this year.

I began by getting to know Elizabeth Guadarrama, who proposed adding water bottle refilling stations to the fourth floor of Brookens. Guadarrama initially began her proposal as a part of her internship in the office of advising. As she worked, she noticed that the only working water fountain had bad water pressure. It became an inconvenient and tiresome task to fill her water bottle each day, so she decided it was time for an upgrade.

Her solution was simple, effective and sustainable. Using petitions and an official proposal, she developed her plan with the help of Dara Abina, an advisor for the project. Guadarrama hopes the new stations will encourage more reusable water bottles as well as make daily life more convenient for herself and coworkers.

In late April, this semester will also introduce a composting initiative for the Cox Children’s Center garden. The children’s community garden, a recent addition to campus, is an ongoing teaching project for the younger generation of UIS. However, the garden has had a large dependency on the UIS community garden. As a result, the Sustainability Committee of Leadership for Life wishes to install a compost bin for the garden. Abigail Way, a member of the group project, states that the purpose for the project is to “[teach] the children applicable skills and build awareness of why compost is important to the plant. Way also hopes that, in time, the garden can be better maintained by the children’s center, and given future generations a positive perspective of staying green.

As a result of a previous project, special parking spaces were allocated for low emission vehicles and carpools. Unfortunately, these spaces have been misused aside from their intended purposes.

In response, Caleb Froidcoeur, a member of the Green Fee Committee, proposed an idea to dissuade such actions. In a joint effort with the committee, he plans to use new parking to ensure that the parking slots are used appropriately. In the oncoming semester, people will need specific passes to identify their use of the space.

Looking back, the committee was proud of the initial efforts and time to get the parking, so Froidcoeur describes it as “slap to their faces” to see that hard work go to waste. By having stricter enforcement, the committee hopes to support the author of the original project, Ben Collette, and preserve the importance of continuous sustainable progress.

Collette also returns to bring about an additional project to UIS this year called Sustainable Signage. Soon UIS will be adding another matrix garden to the community. Collette describes these natural ecosystems as a selection of native plants that work together to balance and sustain themselves.

While this was an important environmental step Collette believed something was missing from the initiative. He came to the conclusion that educating people about the sustainable effort on campus could have a farther reach than the boundaries of the matrix garden. As a result, Collette felt encouraged to “create something that let the students and faculty and anyone who visits campus to learn about sustainable landscaping and gain tips that they can take home, learn from, and implement in their own lives.”

Collette, like many others, plays a large role in the Green Fee Initiative on campus. The committee is always looking to hear back from the general body about changes that they would like to see on campus.

Francesca Butler, co-chair of the committee, encourages anyone to apply. The committee’s doors are always open for ideas and input on behalf of the UIS community.

For any who might feel hesitant, Butler encourages “to do it, just go for it.” Froidcoeur also advises that “if you have any idea, no matter who you are, as long as it pertains to sustainability, go ahead and submit it even if it isn’t a fully formed idea yet.” The Green Fee Committee gives a voice to any who wish to take a leadership role in building a sustainable campus. So if you have an idea, however simple or silly it may seem, go for it. Either email the committee at any time during the year or wait until the fall. Making a change on campus does not have to be a grand gesture, every step towards progress is important in the long run.