April 21, 2011

Senate works to implement SMURF projects

The Student Senate has about half the term left to meet its timetable on restricted fund expenditures and while most of its projects are underway, some are yet to be seen.

Senate passed guidelines proposed by its Special Meeting on the Use of the Restricted Fund (SMURF) late in February. These guidelines spelled out the results of a SMURF survey of the student body and a timetable for implementing the top five projects.

It is expected that the top five projects will be either finished or in progress by the end of this academic year, according to Senate Communications Officer senior Chris Bugajski.

The restricted fund, which was brought to Senate’s attention this year, constitutes a decade’s worth of rolled over student activity fee money, or roughly $150,000. It was decided that $50,000 would be set aside in the event of a decrease in enrollment and the rest could be used to fund campus projects.

One major project in the works is composting on campus. According to Director of Dining Services Helmut Mayer, though, the process will not be fully underway until August. They have received the food dehydrator, and the composting bin is still on its way.

Mayer said that this is a learning experience for everyone involved. There will be some time devoted to assembly and worms will need time to mature in regular soil. He added that it will take about eight to 12 weeks to get a regular daily output, which will eventually reach 80 pounds per day. Nevertheless, he is excited.

“Just imagine how many tons of waste won’t go into a landfill,” Mayer said, noting that there will be that much less methane produced.

Josh Davidoff, ‘10, who has been involved with the effort to get a composting system since it began, will be on campus over the summer working to get the new system up and running.

His enthusiasm about the project shows. He said this will save thousands of dollars on food waste costs each year and Dining Services will be able to trade the compost with local farmers in return for reduced prices for their food.

“SMURF gave this a format for discussion to make sure students were supportive of the idea,” Davidoff said.

It was originally expected that the roughly $30,000 machine would be paid in full from the restricted fund, but the Office of the President made a $5,000 contribution and $15,000 was covered by the Green Fee. The restricted fund covered the rest.

The completed projects include funding for instructed activities like yoga classes in the fitness center and for anything in the Taylor Student Lounge.

The SMURF policy provides that the restricted fund will be available to fund new items in the lounge “now and in perpetuity,” Bugajski said in February. “We’re trying to make an earnest effort to make a commitment to this lounge.”

The provision to fund more seating around campus is underway, as money for ten new picnic tables is being transferred to the office of Facilities Services Director Scott Maust. The new seating, though, will not be on campus until fall term.

The project with the least momentum thus far is fixing the Gizmo fireplace. According to Bugajski, Maust is looking into converting it into a gas fireplace.

The final survey of the student body conducted by SMURF included nine projects. The top five are those mentioned above. The SMURF guidelines provide a mechanism through which the other four projects and any others can be proposed to the Senate Finance Committee.

Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with Patch.com, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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