Student leaders met with the University Fees committee to advocate for the green fee.
To say that Students for Environmental Action President Korin Tangtrakul and Temple Student Government Senate President Colin Saltry felt nervous moments before their meeting with the University Fees committee would be an understatement.
“I was freaking out,” Tangtrakul, a senior geography and urban studies and environmental studies major, said. “This has been something I’ve been working on since August, and it was boiled down to a 10-minute presentation.”
The work Tangtrakul referred to is the student-based campaign for a university-wide green fee, spearheaded by SEA. The fund, requiring students to pay $5 per semester, would go toward sustainability projects on campus. Tangtrakul and Saltry, a sophomore economics major, gave a presentation in the Office of Management and Budget on the sixth floor of Carnell Hall.
“Over the course of two weeks, we spent probably an hour to three hours a day [working on the presentation],” Saltry said. “The night before, we tried to get as many facts and figures as we possibly could, because we figured we’re going in front of mostly finance people who know where the money is going, where the money is coming from.
“We started around 7 o’clock that night and got kicked out of the Student Center at midnight and went over to the TECH Center until about 3 in the morning, when we were getting all of these numbers and touching up the presentation. We started again on Friday morning at 8 and pretty much worked right through until about 1:30,” Saltry added.
Saltry and Tangtrakul were informed about the meeting before classes began this semester. This milestone came after SEA members and other proponents of the green fee reached their goal to get more than 3,400 student-support signatures, roughly 10 percent of the student body.
Despite their presentation anxiety, the two said that once they began speaking, everything flowed.
The two gave a PowerPoint presentation and then answered questions from the committee. They spoke about the financial benefits of the green fee and different projects that could happen, tying in the fee with community engagement, something Temple is trying to incorporate into its new policies.
“They didn’t ask as many questions as I thought they would, but one of the questions they asked was how this was going to help with the reduction of greenhouse gases,” Tangtrakul said. “Then they asked the slippery slope argument of, ‘If you guys get your fee passed, wouldn’t this encourage other students to get their fees passed?’”
“We were more interested in energy savings,” Saltry said, “Through spending $5 on security lights alone, we could save $1 million over five years.”
Tangtrakul said one of the most likely reasons the committee might consider the fee unnecessary is the existing 5 percent tuition portion that goes toward renovations and efficiency.
Saltry said he’d like to look at the budget.
“If they’re just putting seven new windows into the building and keeping them open or just adding three new light bulbs, I don’t necessarily see how that’s green or sustainable,” he said. “Especially when the whole point is saving money.
“I never really think they got the point that this was about student involvement,” Saltry added. “Instead of having university administrators deciding what projects to go forward with, you have students actively taking part in the university, trying to make it better and save themselves money in the long term.”
“Input from students who don’t support a mandatory green fee had to be taken into consideration and incorporated into the speech that was given,” Barry Scatton, president of Temple College Republicans said. “The goal was to present administrators an alternate viewpoint on this issue and I am glad we were able to successfully do so.”
Ken Kaiser, associate vice president of the Office of Management and Budget, declined to comment on Friday’s meeting, only mentioning that the green fee’s implementation was not solely dependent on the committee.
Saltry and Tangtrakul said they felt the presentation was well-received by the seven-member committee.
While waiting on a decision, the two are working on their next move, which includes a public relations campaign to present facts of the fee to students.
“Now that Colin and I have done all that research, we have an idea of how the green fee can work logistically, and we’re ready to get that information out to all students,” Tangtrakul said.
“We’re going to keep working to make sure [the green fee] goes through the way we want it to go through,” Saltry said. “And obviously, if it doesn’t, we’re going to come up with ways to keep moving. The bottom line is that we’re going to keep moving forward.”
Josh Fernandez can be reached at email@example.com.