Thank you for your coverage of the green fee issue over the past few months. Your balanced reporting gave students an opportunity to learn about the green fee, hear differing viewpoints and decide the better argument. As you know, we said from the beginning that Temple is committed to sustainability through our agreements under the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the Temple 20/20 plan and the Academic Strategic Compass. Each intends to integrate green practices into campus development projects, such as green roofs and porous pavement, as well as into the curriculum. Now we all know the initial investment in green technology, green roofs and so forth requires substantial capital investment; however, that investment is not throwing good money after “fluff” programs. The whole point about being sustainable is about saving money in the long term.
Some say that Temple should budget for green projects with projected savings in mind; however, according to Temple’s Associate Vice President for Budget & Finance, Temple allocates less than 5 percent towards energy efficiency projects. The green roof at Ambler campus came from a $50,000 grant from PECO. This green roof is not just for aesthetics. It will reduce summer cooling costs for that building by close to 25 percent and will double the life expectancy of the roof. Similarly, Temple and other entities provided grants that paid for engineering students’ porous pavement project. This project, too, will save Temple money when the Philadelphia Water Department begins taxing institutions for storm water runoff over the next three years. Saving money on energy costs frees up money in the budget, money better spent on more worthy projects like quality advisors or elevators that work properly.
It is true that Rutgers University has an optional fee. That fee is $11.20 per semester. Our fee is $5. Their fee goes towards hiring people to campaign to “fight global warming, cleanup our water ways, make college affordable, and other issues [they] decide to work on.” While a commendable effort, Rutgers students’ money goes directly into hiring staff to work on special interest projects. Temple’s green fee will not hire a new staff to install a green roof. It will fund hands-on student and faculty research projects, the retrofit of Temple’s security and building lighting, the installation of green roofs, the investment in Temple-owned and -operated energy generation capabilities and a slew of other initiatives proposed by students, faculty and administration.
Furthermore, the statement, “we do not pay tuition in order to financially advance a non-educational endeavor,” is entirely correct. That is why Temple has fees. Fees like the $45 general activities fee, more than half of which funds athletic programs, the $40 recreation services fee, which also funds athletically motivated services. It would be nice to choose which fees to pay based on personal preference or political ideology; however, the fact remains that Temple fees are mandatory…whether we like it or not. The green fee, the cheapest fee at Temple, is not a facility or service only some students will benefit from. It is an investment for the future of this campus that concerns and affects everyone at Temple, student and administrator alike.
We are confident that the overwhelming majority of students will agree with us. That is why, despite technical setbacks and miscommunications, Temple students will have the opportunity to vote on the green fee between April 26 and April 30. After meeting every benchmark set by the Temple administration, we firmly believe students need and deserve a larger voice in this process. So, keep your eyes on your e-mails, and please do not miss this opportunity to take part in a sustainable future for our campus.
Temple Student Government
Students for Environmental