Green Fund 5-0
Posted by Trevor Lovell
From a ReEnergize Texas press release issued April 26th
Earth Week in Texas brought a major victory for student environmentalists. Student bodies at 5 state universities voted in favor of campus “green funds.” The institutions are among some of the state’s largest – UT Austin, UT San Antonio, UT El Paso, Texas A&M University, and the University of North Texas – and the funds are expected to generate a combined $8 million for sustainability projects over their five year lifespan.
“The message was about investing in a greener future for our campus,” said Cameron Tharp who headed the campaign at the University of North Texas where 82% of students voted in favor.
If each of the funds is approved by its respective board of regents, Texas would have a total of 7 public colleges with green funds, including Texas State University and Austin Community College, both of which already have such funds in place. California currently has 10 public colleges with green funds, the most in the country.
The initiatives have proven popular with voting students. At UT Austin, 71% of voters favored the new fee. At Texas A&M where a more heated debate took place 57% voted in favor. The new fees would range from $3 – $5 per semester.
“It was tougher at UT San Antonio,” says junior Pardeis Heidari, “because students had voted down a proposed $10 transportation fee earlier this semester. We had to educate the student body about how this fund was broader and would be placed under student control.”
The “Think Green Fund” campaign is being organized by ReEnergize Texas, a coalition of student groups focused on climate and energy issues in the state. The campaign is unique in that the Texas Legislature gave pre-approval to the necessary fees during the 2009 legislative session, clearing a major hurdle for most student-driven fees.
“It shows that our state lawmakers think this is an important priority,” said Jackie Trevino, leader of another campaign at UT Pan American scheduled to launch next fall.