The Student Government Association Senate has voted unanimously to call a referendum on Oct. 29 and 30 to let students choose whether or not to institute a $5 per semester green fee.
As a result, a coalition has been formed by students. Jacks Go Green is a student initiative to encourage environmentally friendly projects at the University.
SGA president Scarleth Lopez, a senior psychology major from Dayton, said the green fee will support green student project proposals, such as bike sharing, solar power and campus community gardens.
“The $5 per semester green fee will be applied to students,” Lopez said. “The revenue from this money will be used to fund projects proposed by students, faculty and staff at SFA. These projects will be chosen from students, faculty and staff. They will be the ones to say, ‘Yes, I want this project here on campus,’ or ‘Maybe not this project.’”
If students vote “no,” the green fee will not be presented to the Board of Regents for consideration. If students vote “yes” and the regents approve, the fee is expected to appear on students’ ebills in the fall of 2020.
“After that point, the board will be appointed and the board will say, ‘Here’s how much money we have, here’s the projects that we can do,” Lopez said.
The board will be composed of students, faculty and staff members.
“That way, we get the student perspective and their say in where their money goes, but the faculty and staff members who will know sustainability and school policy better will also have a say,” Lopez said.
Hollyn Grizzaffi, junior biology major from Denton, was informed about the green fund by her sustainability professor.
“We are trying to implement a $5 fee per student, per semester. It’ll all go to any type of sustainability or environmentally friendly project that people propose. Students, professors, anyone can propose a project to go to a committee of majority students, to go through,” Grizzaffi said.
Jacks Go Green is tabling at the student center plaza every day except Fridays, to get students to vote “yes” on Oct. 29 and 30.
“I think that being students here, this is our campus. We should take care of it. We should be sure that it’s beautiful for all the different generations of students coming through. We’re really just trying to help the earth,” she said.
Grizzaffi said that for students, this means that their voice will be heard.
“Everyone is trying to be environmentally friendly, but there’s not really a way to do that on campus yet,” Grizzaffi said. “There’s not a group that you can go to, to say, ‘Hey, I want to have solar panels on our buildings’ we don’t have the money for it, we don’t have it set aside, but when we’re voting yes to this, we’re setting aside money from the students, from tuition to go toward these sustainability projects.”
“Our campus would probably grow because that’s a big thing that people look for in their college campus, like, ‘Hey, what are they doing to be sustainable?’ And we have a beautiful campus. We just want to keep it that way,” Grizzaffi said.
Claire Lingle, sophomore environmental science major from Houston, encourages students to vote “yes.”
“I don’t see a downside to this. For the cost of a Starbucks coffee, every semester you can help the environment on campus. It’s really small, but I think $5 is worth it,” she said.
“I’ve heard a lot of people saying they don’t like additional fees, which I completely understand. Our argument to that is the PO Box rental that we pay without even knowing is $10. We also pay to go to the Rec Center. With those fees, it’s not really consequential,” Lingle said.
Students stopped by the Jacks Go Green tabling event to write down suggestions on what they want to see on campus from the green fee. Ideas include composting on campus, recycle bins, reduced plastic waste, less plastic packaging, more trees on campus and water refill stations.
“The ball is in your court. We’re doing everything we can to help educate you and the opportunities you would have if we passed this referendum. Just vote and say ‘yes.’ This is something we can decide on,” Lopez said.
Lopez said that if passed, this referendum would have to be voted on again in five years.
“Let’s say you’re a freshman and the year before, they decided to pass it. By your senior year, you’re going to have to vote on it. Let’s say these past four years you haven’t seen anything happen, you haven’t seen any good projects, you don’t know where your money is going, you can vote “no.” But if in those four years, you see community gardens happening, you see more solar power things happening, why not vote on it again?”
There will be an open forum at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Theater. The forum will include faculty members and students on the panel to explain the green fee.