April 25, 2012

Getting sustainable

As he finishes off a year as chair of Senate’s Sustainability Committee, sophomore Max Potthoff reflects on his original goals for the Green Fee and student projects.

Potthoff was interested in developing student interest in the Green Fee, recently renamed The Student Sustainability Fund, which was doubled this year. He expressed interest in developing its longevity.

“One of my main goals this year was that the Green Fee would be utilized for projects that aren’t just Band-Aid solutions. I wanted to look for projects that actually had some substance behind them,” Potthoff said.

Potthoff referenced the importance of community in regard to sustainability, which benefits greatly from large-scale participation.

“I wanted to increase the culture of sustainability on campus, and I feel like a lot of people were involved this year. Above all, that’s what I hoped for; sustainability is really fueled by a lot of people making small changes in their lives,” Potthoff said.

Accountability for funds distributed from the Student Sustainability Fund was another one of Potthoff’s goals. He stated that transparency is the surest way to see what works and what does not.

“I felt like it was necessary to create a system of accountability for the money, so that you aren’t just handing out funds from a pot of money that no one’s responsible for. We’ve created a Student Sustainability Fund symposium that will take place at the end of the year, where projects will be presented,” Potthoff said.

A more flexible interpretation of the Student Sustainability Fund allowed for the funding of projects that would have been denied in years past. While the fund was not used to support stipends for student work in the past, Potthoff created the Knox Good Food Stewards, two student summer positions paid through the fund.

“Those are two positions for the summer where students are working at the farmers market to database the local farmers, so that [Director of Dining Services] Helmut [Mayer] has some sort of means to easily access local foods,” Potthoff said.

Beyond redefining the purview of the fund, Potthoff encountered little opposition during the year concerning sustainability efforts.

“Student Senate and students at large were really receptive to what we wanted to do to improve the culture of sustainability; people wanted this kind of stuff to happen,” Potthoff said.

Looking back upon the year, Potthoff said he is happy with the progress the committee has made, and is excited to see the results of the projects in the coming year.

“A lot of projects are funding positions that accomplish goals that can only be reached if it’s someone’s specific responsibility,” Potthoff said. “They also promote social involvement.”

Julian Boireau
Julian Boireau is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in French. This is his fourth year working for TKS, having served as co-news editor during his sophomore and junior years. He has been involved in journalism for seven years, serving as opinions editor of the newspaper and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. In September 2012, Julian received press credentials to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where he reported on remarks by President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the recipient of back-to-back first place awards from the Illinois College Press Association for front page layout.

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