Student Environment Association (SEA) officials met with Student Government (SG) members Monday to argue that a referendum be added to the SG midterm ballot that would increase students’ tuition by $1 per credit hour for a more energy efficient campus.
Their request was denied.
The referendum, which is named the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF), included creating renewable and alternative energy projects on campus.
“If we were to include it on this ballot, for the midterm next week, we would be breaking our own statutes, and we are trying not to do that,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Khalid Hassouneh. “We are trying to be as accommodating as possible.”
According to SG statutes, referendums must contain about 800 signatures. Although SEA gathered the signatures, it did not provide SG with enough time to put them through a screening process that ensures they are from registered USF students before Monday’s meeting.
“Also, statutes require that the referendum be advertised for a week before the date of the election, so students know that … there is a referendum up and … what the referendum is about,” Hassouneh said. “That could not be done today because today would have been the first day they would have to start advertising (at 7 a.m. on Monday). From a technical perspective, this just isn’t feasible.”
Karissa Gerhke, president of USF’s chapter of SEA, said SG Attorney General Janet Rojas told her she would be able to turn the referendum in by Oct. 5 if she had collected the 800 signatures.
“Our main issue is that we were told in writing that our due date was Oct. 5, and now, when we bring it to you a day before the deadline, you are telling us it’s not possible,” she said.
However, SG graduate adviser Alyssa Thomas said she gave Gerhke an earlier deadline and that the SG Department of Governmental Affairs would need at least a week to validate the signatures.
“It was just a communication issue that we need to work on,” Thomas said.
Rojas said she apologized to SEA because she was not aware of the manpower it would take to validate the signatures.
“It was my fault I didn’t take into consideration the time it would take to look over the signatures,” she said.
Gerhke said she wanted the committee to return the referendum before December’s Board of Trustees meeting so that it could be brought to the attention of the Florida Board of Governors.
“We need to get this in this fall.Otherwise, it won’t be enacted until two years from now,” she said. “Now, what we are planning on doing is, instead, we are not going to stop.”
Although SGEF won’t appear on the midterm ballot, representatives will still promote the issue to students on campus.
“We (are) still going to go to the polls and still going to show that we want the Student Green Energy Fund,” Gerhke said. “Also, we will be holding the event Greenstock on Oct. 21, and we will be promoting (the) green fund then, and we are also going to be doing a lot of marketing and chalking.”
– Additional reporting by Aubrey Clark