You have to give green to go green

During one of my daily excursions to the Marshall Student Center last week, I was stopped by a student with a survey. The student asked me how I’d feel about adding a “green fee” to the many fees we pay every semester. My immediate reaction was to oppose it — or any other fee for that matter — but then I began to think about its possible benefits.

When you compare a few fees to the cost of tuition, they are a relatively small price to pay for the greater good of the University.

Students are already forced to pay a $10 Athletic Flat Fee, a $7 Activity and Service Fee and a $20 Student Union Enhancement Fee, on top of other fees determined by the number of credit hours taken. Most students, including myself, have absolutely no idea what these fees pay for but continue to pay them each semester with no complaint or desire for an explanation.

Unlike the others, a green fee could have a lasting effect not only on the University, but on the planet as a whole. The fee — which would bring programs supported by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency to campus and would be used to construct more energy-efficient buildings and promote recycling — could help develop a sustainable planet for generations to come.

According to the East Tennessean, the student newspaper at East Tennessee State University, six universities in Tennessee approved a $10 green fee. The fees have been used for recycling, developing a Web site to organize carpooling and creating both hybrid and flexible-fuel vehicles.

In 2007, the University of Florida added a 50-cent energy fee to its student government ballot, which was supported by the majority of the student body and implemented in 2008. The University of Central Florida, University of North Florida and Florida State University have passed similar green initiatives, which leaves USF as the last major Florida university without one.

Moving toward pro-environment and sustainability projects can only have positive effects for USF. The Student Sustainability Committee, the club promoting the green fee, supports reducing all greenhouse gas emissions on campus and creating more efficient forms of public transportation. The use of the fee would make the University more energy efficient and, in turn, might save the University money.

As a student body, we should not grudgingly pay the fee but demand that the University implement it immediately. There should be no reason for such an initiative to be met with opposition. Eco-conscious jobs are the wave of the future and will have a part in solving the most pressing issue of our generation.

USF President Judy Genshaft has been taking necessary steps to make the University more environmentally friendly by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in April. It’s our job to rally behind her and make sure her efforts do not go unnoticed.

Unlike the Student Union Enhancement Fee that only benefits those of us who use the Marshall Student Center, or the Athletic Fee that benefits Bulls sports fans and athletes, a green fee would benefit the USF community as a whole.

Damara Rodriguez is a senior majoring in mass communications.