Campus / News / Student Senate / February 4, 2009

Turning sustainable ideas into reality: the Green Fee

What’s five dollars to a Knox student? Coffee at Innkeepers, something fried from the Gizmo, cigarettes from the Quickie… Since last fall, a more useful allocation has been drawn from each student’s activity fund.

With the implementation of a “Green Fee,” Knox has continued its stride toward a more sustainable campus. Since the Senate instituted the Green Fee, five dollars from each student every term are added to a fund accessible to students working towards a more environmentally friendly campus.

Currently there is just over $20,000 awaiting allocation. Unused money accumulates, or ‘rolls over’ through the terms. The money is separate from the regular Student Activities fund and is governed primarily by the Senate’s Sustainability Committee. It is money that is specifically reserved for student-initiated projects to make Knox a greener, more sustainable campus. “Other colleges have Green Fees,” said Student Senate President Elaine Wilson.

Newly elected Sustainability Chair Rachel Deffenbaugh said that it will provide “a viable resource for students…to draw upon.” The fund should provide students with greater means to pursue environmentally minded projects.

The Senate Sustainability Committee is one of Senate’s newest groups, having been in existence for only a year and a half, but Wilson said it has “certainly been the most active.” In keeping with Wilson’s description, Deffenbaugh has not wasted any time since her election. She said she has heard of many interesting projects, and is just awaiting the submission of formal proposals.

Deffenbaugh said that any student can access these funds through a simple process. She said, “it’s not just for clubs or environmental studies majors.” However, since its inception, there has only been one proposal submitted. The proposal was subsequently granted.

This term, the International Club asked for $2500 to fund an I-Magazine printed on wood-free paper with environmentally friendly ink. Deffenbaugh called this an “excellent example of framing a project” with a green edge. Both Deffenbaugh and Wilson were enthusiastic about the project.

Deffenbaugh notes, “submitting a proposal is quite easy.” The process for receiving funding is simple: a proposal of several paragraphs, putting forth an idea and explaining how it relates to sustainability.

After a proposal’s submission to the Sustainability Committee, it is voted on and, if approved, continues to the Senate Executive Committee, from which it is turned over to the General Assembly for approval.

Though she expressed great enthusiasm for the I-Mag, Deffenbaugh called it “a one-time allocation,” and made it clear that she is also “interested in students figuring out permanent projects for Knox.”

Asked why Deffenbaugh thought more students hadn’t submitted proposals, she suggested that college students get used to not having the means to enact ideas. She explained that the typical student turns out many ideas but is used to a lack of money available to actually carry out projects. Far from seeing this as any sort of “plague on Knox,” Deffenbaugh is hopeful that the Green Fee will give students the means to change this stigma and the campus.

Both Deffenbaugh and Wilson also pointed to the novelty of the fee, hoping that with increased awareness, there will be more proposals submitted.

Sustainability has been a subject of major interest around campus in recent years, and from the elimination of trays in the cafeteria to the availability of cloth bags at the C-Store, Knox has made a number of visible improvements in the past year and a half.

Gaby Fox

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