Last year, we in Temple Student Government had the opportunity to work with Students for Environmental Action on a project commonly known as the green fee. For nearly eight months, people in TSG and SEA, led by then-SEA president Korin Tangtrakul and TSG Senate President Colin Saltry, created a formal green fee proposal, presented it before the University Fees Committee, and most importantly, circulated a petition that received 3,294 signatures. Despite our best efforts, the University Fees Committee chose to deny our modest request for a $5.00 sustainability fee. While we came up short on the green fee, our commitment to a more sustainable Temple University remains as firm as ever.
Recently, though, some have suggested that Temple Student Government lacks any such commitment. This is simply not the case.
We have neither abandoned nor forgotten about sustainability. Granted, our support might not be as visible as it was in years past, but we remain as committed privately as we were publicly.
Other than the misperception about our commitment to sustainability, we have identified several other inconsistencies that we would like to clarify following your Jan. 18 article “TSG committee change causes controversy.”
First, student tuition does not provide “free or reduced” tuition for any TSG member. Temple Student Government receives $120,000 in funding for student organization allocations from the General Activities Fee. Additionally, TSG receives approximately $60,000 for our operating expenses from the university’s general operating budget. We spend this money on everything from office supplies like pens and paper to student-oriented services like the Student Organization Resource Room, legal and tax services as well general expenses for the remaining branches of TSG.
The sheer fact that student tuition may constitute a portion of TSG’s operating budget is another reason why we need every Temple student’s voice to better say where and how that money should be spent.
Second, the Special Committee on Sustainability was disbanded for a number of reasons. Mainly, the committee’s decision to focus on marginal issues, including vehicle idling, detracted from TSG’s overall mission of serving students and with regard to issues of sustainability, providing administrative and advocacy support to Students for Environmental Action.
Finally, governing is about making choices. At times, those choices are difficult, especially when those making them also happen to be full-time students with lives outside student government. While some may view issues such as vehicle idling, waste minimization policy and the environmental benefits of drinking cold-brewed tea as important, we in student government decided to dedicate our efforts to different pursuits.
Since our terms began on April 26, 2010, we have managed to address and continue address a number of issues: campus safety and community relations policy, better advising, sexual orientation and gender equality, student friendly computer services policies, making student voices heard in the halls of the administration, providing student organizations with better access to basic resources, making allocations funding easier and more efficient, providing students with legal and tax services, feeding 50 hungry families for Thanksgiving, general volunteering in the community, organizing the four state-related universities (University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, Lincoln University and Temple) to lobby for continued state funding that helps keeps tuition low (though $7,000+ is not cheap), as well as working with PennPIRG and members of the United States Congress to tout the student benefits of the new healthcare law and a slew of other acts and services.
Perhaps our support for sustainability has not been as vocal lately because we believe that the most effective environmental advocacy is completed by those dedicated solely to environment causes: those environmental advocates within SEA. Senator for the College of Science & Technology and environmental science major Leslee Everett has done a superb job in recent weeks as senior advisor for sustainability and with her help, we look forward to a renewed sense of partnership with SEA.
In that spirit, we are excited to work with SEA again; this time on Temple’s recycling policy. As Temple’s current recycling contract expires, TSG and SEA will collaborate once more to ensure that Temple’s next recycling policy mirrors the standards set by the City of Philadelphia.
Finally, TSG along with SEA and a cross-section of concerned students, Temple will achieve a reputation for recycling equal to its reputation for academic rigor, research excellence and “service to Philadelphia, the Nation and the World.”
Temple Student Government