Knox College has a large amount of money set aside to finance student-driven sustainability projects through the Green Fee. However, to date this year, there has not been a single proposal submitted with a suggestion on how to use the roughly $30,000 set aside for this purpose.
Sophomore Max Potthoff, member of both the President’s Task Force on Sustainability and the Student Senate Sustainability Committee, suspects the paperwork involved has scared off people, saying that, “It’s a daunting task [to ask for money],” but quickly adding, “I don’t want to discourage people. That’s why we’re here.”
He remains optimistic that there will be Green Fee proposals submitted, noting that all of the paper applications available in the Mail Room have been taken.
Still, students in Environmental Science 101 have already heard presentations encouraging them to submit proposals, and there is the possibility of further initiatives to raise awareness of the Green Fee among the student body.
“There is never enough exposure and visibility,” Potthoff said.
In addition to the $30,000 left in the Green Fee budget for use on student proposals for this year, an additional $13,000 is being saved for a bigger project down the road. The exact nature of this future project is currently unknown, but solar panels or a wind turbine for campus are both possibilities.
One thing that is definitely moving forward is the search to fill the newly created position of Sustainability Coordinator on campus.
“We’re still very much in the early stages [of hiring],” Potthoff said of the search. The Task Force is in the process of creating a job description, though it has been agreed at this point that the position will require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field as well as two years of relevant experience.
Director of Facilities Services and Task Force member Scott Maust described the position as a mix of consolidating current responsibilities as well as creating new ones. As it is, he said, “There is no one person that brings it all together.” Making data about the college’s sustainability efforts available and easily accessible is also something that the Sustainability Coordinator will be in charge of.
Potthoff agrees that coordination is a problem. There currently exist a variety of groups and positions on campus that deal with sustainability in some way or another, but “people don’t know what the other groups are doing.”
The Green Fee was established in 2008 as a way to fund student-led sustainability initiatives. Approximately $5 of every student’s activity fee goes to Green Fee initiatives. Past uses of the Green Fee have purchased such things as new recycling containers, low-flow showerheads and bicycles for the Bike Sharing Program.
The Task Force meets on Wednesdays at 9:15 p.m. in the Reference Room of Seymour Library. All meetings are open to interested students.