Discourse / Editorials / April 25, 2012

Why the Green Fee is now the Sustainability Fund

Four years ago, we, the students at Knox College, made a collective commitment to long-term sustainability on campus. Every one of us did so by pledging first five, then ten dollars every trimester to be set aside to fund student-driven projects related to on-campus sustainability.

Matching the ethos of our institution, we affirmed our roots as a progressive college whose focus and interests are guided by the student body. We also affirmed that individuals can do big things when working together. Four years after the Green Fee was founded, the foundation earlier students laid has put us, the current student body, in a wonderful position to build upon their efforts.

Today, for instance, this small individual commitment produces big results on our campus and in our community.

Just this year, the Green Fee helped to fund a new sustainability coordinator position. It helped to bring New York Times best seller, Paul Greenberg, to campus to give an invigorating Earth Week lecture about sustainability. Just in the last week, in fact, it helped to launch two “Good Food Steward” positions, which, among other tasks, will do local food education, all while compiling a database of local growers to be tapped for use in dining services.

Combined with other initiatives, it is very clear that the Green Fee is paying big dividends for us students both now and, more importantly, in the future.

It is for these reasons that we on the Student Senate’s Sustainability Committee chose to change the name of the Green Fee to the Student Sustainability Fund.

The initiatives that Green Fee now drives extend far beyond a simple fee, and our new name better reflects the goals of the fund. For one, sustainability has connotations that “green” does not. Using the word “green” often constricts scope to compact fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads. Not that those aren’t great things, but “sustainable” incorporates a variety of projects that have a greater social and community purpose than just “green.”

Likewise, the name is in stride with a larger institutional trajectory toward sustainability.

Whereas a “fee” is something that you have to pay, a fund is something that you can use. Its purpose is to be accessed, to be spent, to be invested. If you see the logo for the new Student Sustainability Fund (designed by Honor Beeler and Callie Smith) on projects around campus, you know that your money has been invested in a thoughtfully sustainable manner.

With that, I look at the Student Sustainability Fund’s future with a great amount of excitement and expectation. It is student initiatives like these that set our little college apart, and before long I hope that Knox will take its place among the most sustainable campuses in the country.

Max Pothoff is the Chair of the Senate Sustainability Committee

Max Potthoff

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