Four years and going


After being denied funding by the Mandatory Fee Committee for the last three years, proponents of an environmentally friendly campus have attempted to fund a proposed  Office of Sustainability through the Student Activity Fee, a possibility that now looks bleak.

Dr. Michael Black, a lecturer at Georgia State, presented his plan before the Student Activity Fee Committee on Sept. 18.

He proposed that funding for an Office of Sustainability would allow Georgia State and it’s students to make their campus not only more eco-friendly but also more efficient, cheaper to run and more attractive.

“Green is a thing that students are looking for in universities,” Black said. “They are looking for how sustainable is this university? What things are they doing? How forward looking are they?”

Black turned to the Student Activity Fee Committee after President Mark Becker said that there would be no Mandatory Fee increase this year.

When Black proposed a new mandatory fee last year, Student Government Association members of the Mandatory Fee Committee said the mandatory fee Black proposed could be placed under the Student Activity Fee.

VP of Student Affairs Dr. Douglass Covey noted that placing the green fee under the Student Activity Fee would severely limit the program, as any money that the fee received could only be used for student related activities and not for any green “retrofitting” of the university’s buildings or creation of partnerships with local green corporations.

Despite Covey’s comments, the committee voted the fee down and suggested Black try again with the SAFC the following year.

When the SAFC discussed the possibility of funding the Office of Sustainability, rumors that any increase in fees would not be entertained made the committee hesitant to propose an increase.

“From the understanding that we’ve been given is that even if the Mandatory Fee Committee does move to increase fees it will be struck down at a higher level,” said Taylor Briggs, executive vice president of the SGA.

President Mark Becker announced at his State of the University address he would not entertain any new fees or fee increases, confirming rumors discussed within the SAFC.

The SAFC decided reallocation of fees would then be the best option for the Office of Sustainability.

“Having a green fee as a student activity fee will still serve the students well,” Black said.

The problem is, according to Black, that a student activity fee can change and be realocated from yeat to year, but as a mandatory fee would be more permanent.

The committee decided to collect student feedback and, if the feedback showed support for a reallocation of funds for an Office of Sustainability, the committee would then vote to move the funds.

While Georgia State has been hesitant to approve any type of funding for green initiatives, other colleges and universities, like the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia and Emory University all have nationally recognized green programs.

However, according to Rebecca Stout, associate vice president of the dean of students,  the committee will discuss possibly extending the original voting date of Oct. 26 since Institutional Research has recently agreed to conduct a survey to collect student opinion,

Even if a reallocation is approved, the amount of action the Office of Sustainability would be able to take to reduce the universities carbon “footprint” could be limited.

As for the possibility of a green mandatory fee, Black said there is always next year.

“We can always try again.”