The University Park Undergraduate Association is investigating the idea of implementing a small fee for sustainability initiatives, that will be tacked on to student tuition, in addition to already existing fees such as the student activity fee, facilities fee, and technology fee.
Governmental Affairs Chair and new Panhellenic President Rachel Franceschino is spearheading the effort along with Deputy Director of Sustainability Evan McTague. “Right now we are evaluating if there is student interest in trying to implement a sustainability fee,” Franceschino said. “The idea behind the sustainability fee is to get both the campus as a whole and students more involved in sustainability efforts. Many large universities have similar fees in place for their student bodies and have had great success with them.”
Franceschino envisions the fee — which would only be a couple dollars per semester — being used for sustainable energy projects that are decided and planned in part by the student body. UPUA is still in the process of evaluating how much student interest and support there is in such a fee that would be automatically added on to tuition. They released an online sustainability fee survey last week and will review the results before deciding whether or not to move onto the referendum process.
“If enough students are interested in the implementation of the fee then UPUA wants to conduct a referendum — a formal campus wide vote — on interest in the fee,” Franceschino said. “If there is a large amount of support for the it, then the fee would need to be proposed to and approved by several parts of the university such as the budget department, President’s Council, and the Board of Trustees.”
Franceschino explained that the referendum process will be used because UPUA wants to ensure that this is an initiative that their constituency — the undergraduate student body — supports before officially proposing the fee to the university.
Specifically how the revenue collected from the fee will be used, remains a question that needs to be answered, but before addressing specifics, it is important to evaluate whether or not students want such an initiative to be enacted. Franceschino stressed that UPUA “would advocate for as much student input in distributing the funds as possible.”
While this proposal is still in the preliminary phase, UPUA certainly has the best interest of the university in mind with this potential fee. In today’s world, issues of sustainability grow more important each and every day. The enactment of a very small fee, specifically for such efforts, would ensure that the university makes sustainability a point of emphasis as opposed to something that sits on the back-burner behind further university expansion.
What do you think? Are you willing to pay a few more dollars per semester to help sustainability on campus? Take the survey and let us know in the comments.