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Proposed student activity fee sets aside sustainability money at UI

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | FEBRUARY 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Funds from the student-activity fees may soon support the University of Iowa's sustainability efforts.

UI Student Government officials hope a recent resolution to earmark student-fee funds for sustainability efforts will one day launch into a green initiative fund.

"I think [the resolution] will finally put Iowa on the right side of things in terms of sustainability," said Abbey Moffitt, a UISG senator and the head of the sustainability committee. "Sustainability really is an investment in our future — we'll have more [support] in 20 years if we have this now. This will be the first step."

The UISG passed the resolution Tuesday night earmarking $2 of student-activity funds for the Support for the Green Initiative Fund.

The resolution now awaits approval from the UI Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, then concurrently to the Student Activity Fee Committee and the UI administration.

If approved by all university officials, the fee would be implemented during the 2013-2014 academic year.

UISG President Elliot Higgins said he hopes the other administrative groups pass the resolution.

"I hope that when the Student Activity Fee [Committee] is evaluating what to do with the fee … that they follow the recommendation of the legislation," he said.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said officials expect to approve the funds.

"The university is deeply committed to sustainability efforts and has developed a very proactive plan to become self-sustaining," he said. "The university continues to work diligently to achieve that vision and great strides have always been made and will continue to be made to achieve those goals."

Sixty percent of funds from the resolution would go toward renewable energy, and 40 percent of funds would go toward smaller projects, such as funding for student sustainability efforts. Student would be able to apply for funding.

Earlier this school year, UISG and the Sierra Student Coalition discussed a voluntary green fee.

According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in High Education, at least 41 colleges and universities nationwide have funds specifically dedicated to sustainability efforts. Some of those schools include the University of Illinois, the University of California-Berkeley, and Harvard University.

"We're really on the tail end of this [as opposed to other schools]," Moffitt said. "It will end up saving us money as far as energy conservation."

UISG officials have spoken with the state Board of Regents regarding sustainability efforts at the UI. Moffitt said officials seemed supportive of the resolution, especially because it won't create a separate fund or add further student-activity fees.

"Whenever money gets involved, people are wary of things," Moffitt said. "But I think people will be supportive [of the resolution]."


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