$5 green fee garners support from students

In keeping with colleges nationwide, a $5 green fee may be added to tuition in Fall 2010.

In keeping with colleges nationwide, a $5 green fee may be added to tuition in Fall 2010.

ANNA ZHILKOVA TTN Students across the country pay green fees as part of tuition. Some students at Temple are working to join them by collecting signatures. To date, they have more than 1,000.

Students for Environmental Action and two Temple Student Government senators are starting a movement to include an additional green fee in tuition costs. The fee would bring the university an extra $5 per student per semester for green projects and initiatives.

Last week, TSG Senate unanimously passed a bill in support of the green fee implementation. Now, senators need to collect 3,400 student signatures by early December to have the bill passed by the Board of Trustees.

If the board supports the fee, the $5 increase could begin as soon as Fall 2010.

“I think most students will be behind it,” said TSG College of Engineering Senator Kyle Goldstein, a major proponent of the fee. “We have not had too many issues with students saying no, and I think the reason behind that is it’s only $5.”

The money the fee brings in will go toward green projects on campus. The allocation of funds will be handled by members of SEA, which will work closely with the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Facilities Management.

“We haven’t had too many students reject the idea,” Goldstein, a civil engineering major, added. “We have had a lot of people question it. They want to know about it. That means they want to see change.”

The idea of a green fee recently spread across the country. Currently, more than 14 colleges and universities, including the College of William and Mary, the University of North Carolina and the University of Colorado, charge mandatory green fees as part of tuition, according to the Association of Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

The fees range between $3 and $5 on average, but the highest in the country is $40 at Northland College in Wisconsin. Money collected generally goes toward making buildings more energy-efficient by purchasing energy-saving light bulbs or investing in alternative energy sources.

Working from the same idea, SEA members developed the proposition to apply the fee at Temple and enlisted the help of two TSG senators – Goldstein and Danny Doherty, TSG senator for the College of Education.

Students spent the past few months working to build momentum to get the measure approved.
Goldstein said at first the money will likely go toward smaller projects, including: energy-efficient light bulbs, more recycling bins on campus, more bike racks and more support for public transportation to reduce the amount of cars on campus.

“It’s harder to implement energy-efficient features in buildings that have already been built, mainly because of money reasons,” he said, adding that though the money will not go toward big projects right away, the smaller proposed changes will help Temple save money long-term.

Now that the Senate backed the measure completely, the bill needs the student body’s approval.

Since Temple is only partially state-subsidized, securing state approval won’t be the bill’s biggest concern. Instead, approval from the Board of Trustees, which controls the tuition rate, will be key. TSG is in the process of collecting the 3,400 signatures, about 10 percent of the total student body, to show the trustees in December.

Since the semester’s start, the students collected more than 1,000 signatures.

Around campus, students expressed support for the measure.

“I think it’s a good idea, and it’ll have greater returns over the years,” junior civil engineering major Stephen Dobron said. “It’ll save more money on power, which can be allocated toward other academic departments. It’ll be in the long-term that we see more benefits from this.”

Marina Manojlovich, a senior Spanish major, agreed.

“Five dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to everything else,” she said. “If Temple wants to stress they’re new and innovative, then this is a step in the right direction. It’s a step toward advancing our school.”

Nadia Elkaddi can be reached at nadia.elkaddi@temple.edu.

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