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Student group lobbies for green fee

Some students are pushing for an additional student fee that would fund environmentally friendly initiatives at the University.

This fee, called a green fee, would charge students between 50 and 75 cents per credit hour, which would total $6 to $9 for a 12-credit-hour semester. The money would go toward projects such as the use of solar energy and more efficient lighting on campus. A student and faculty committee would be set up to determine exactly where the money is spent.

“This fee is unique because it’s a change for students to have a say in where their money is going. This is benefiting everyone because everyone is affected by the environment and climate change,” said Lyndsey Scofield, president of the Environmental Student Association (ESA), the organization promoting the fee.

ESA handed out surveys during the past few weeks and members said they saw promising support for the proposed fee.

“We have already surveyed 360 students and 85 percent of them support the fee,” Scofield said.

Along with the surveys, pictures were taken at the event of students posing with a sign that read: “I support the green fee.”

To get approved, the fee needs to go through Student Government, which would present the idea to the student body to be voted upon, said Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall.

SG president Gregory Morgan said he would consider a green fee, but would like more information about how the fee could be implemented and where the money would go.

“On the surface, it seems like a great idea,” he said. “But you have to weigh the pros and cons.”

Students already pay $8.79 per credit hour plus a $7 flat fee for Activity and Service fees, $7.91 per credit hour for Student Health fees and $11.50 per credit hour  plus a $10 flat rate for the Athletic fee.

This means that a student taking 12 credit hours pays about $335 in student fees per semester.

If approved by the student body, the new fee would go to Meningall, who would present the idea to the University’s governing body, the Board of Trustees. She said she does not make a decision about the fee.

After that, the fee would have to be approved by the Board of Governors, which governs Florida’s State University System.

State statutes allow a university to create additional student fees as long as registration for courses is not contingent upon payment of these fees. University statutes state that the BOT “will establish additional fees in order to meet specific higher education needs identified by the University when special circumstances result in specific, identifiable increased costs of instruction in a course of study.”

Chelsea Gagne, an environmental science and policy freshman, supports the green fee.

“I think if we pay over $10 for an athletic fee than we might as well spend that much on something that can save the world,” she said.

Naima Tabernuro, a mass communications sophomore, support the fee as well, but understands that others may not.

“Fifty to 75 cents is not much, but I can see some people having issues with it because we pay so much already,” she said.

ESA gathered with the Alliance of Concerned Students (ACS) to co-sponsor Greenstock, an event focused on raising student awareness of the environment and promoting a fee that would help the campus become more sustainable.

“We are trying to get the word out on going green,” said Sara Alnasur, vice president of ACS. “It is really important to have a green fee because it will promote recycling and conserving.”

Other student organizations also gathered at Greenstock to promote the ways in which they support environmental causes.

Engineers Without Borders showcased its work with USF’s Botanical Gardens to create a rainwater retention tank.

The Dance Marathon also had a booth promoting the environmentally friendly efforts at their event in the spring: They will provide recycling receptacles and turn out the lights for a two-hour period during the night to conserve energy.

Other student organizations present included an animal rights group, USF Health Services, Close Knit, Circle K International and the Social Work Society.