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UISG moves on green initiative

BY LILY ABROMEIT | SEPTEMBER 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Despite a relatively relaxed Tuesday agenda, one particular piece of legislation stood out in the eyes of the University of Iowa Student Government during its first Senate meeting of the year.

UISG members unanimously approved a pilot program aimed at improving campus-wide sustainability measures, dubbed the Green Initiative Fund.

For UISG President Katherine Valde, the new initiative is an additional outlet for the university to achieve its sustainability goals.

By 2020, the UI hopes to achieve 60 percent waste-diversion and 40 percent renewable-energy consumption on campus.

Valde said a collaborative committee will be created with members of the Executive Council of Graduate & Professional Students and UISG to offer up a pool of $10,000 for student organization aid.

“[The Executive Council] will put money into an account that a committee will be able to allocate for student organizations that are doing specific projects aimed at sustainability,” Executive Council President Ben Gillig said.

UISG senator and Sustainability Committee head Steve Mather presented the legislation at the meeting, stating that it will help the 15 student organizations on campus dedicated to sustainability.

He said more emphasis needs to be placed on environmental initiatives.

“As a university, we do need to move forward for green energies,” Mather said. “Fiscally, this is the most responsible move for the university.”

Valde also said that she hopes this program will help with things such as buying tools for gardeners and funding research projects about sustainability.

Although the program did not pass unanimously in the Executive Council, with a 9-3 total in favor of the legislation, Gillig said he is looking forward to this pilot program.

“We’d like to see some really high-impact programs — programs that’ll actually be out there and very visible to the Iowa student body — demonstrating both the importance of sustainability and the ability of student organizations to make a real difference,” he said.

With its being a pilot program, Gillig said, it is a good way to make sure the money is being spent in the best possible way.

A review of the program is scheduled for April, he said.

“The committee will be responsible for providing a report,” he said. “And then we’ll determine at that time if we’ll want to continue the program next year.”

For now, members of UISG such as Vice President Jack Cumming are eager to be able to move forward with plans to become a more sustainable campus.

“I’m very excited that the green-initiative funds passed,” he said. “I think that there’s going to be a lot of good, just on campus, because [sustainability programs] have this extra amount to pull from.”

Cumming also said that he thinks this is something that is complementary to the UI’s sustainability plan.

“I think this falls right into that, allocating more money to these organizations to work on projects that will have an effect on every area of the university,” Cumming said. “I think it pertains to every type of area on campus.”

In addition, Valde said that she believes the Green Initiative Fund will translate to an overall benefit for the UI.

“It’s just going to be an extra resource,” she said. “It’s a monetary, and symbolic, gesture that student government supports all these groups that are doing great things.”


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