The idealistic goal of garnering support for campus-wide environmental projects may finally be coming to an end. Student Government passed a bill that will allow students to vote in the March 2009 election to raise the tuition rate by 75 cents per credit hour. The additional cost — dubbed the “green fee” — would be invested in renewable energy projects across campus and is projected to generate $1 million annually.
Though the fee still requires approval by the State Legislature, SG must be applauded for overwhelmingly approving the bill Tuesday. The move will let students choose whether the marginal increase is implemented. If approved, the bill has a built-in sunset clause that requires the student body to vote for re-approval of the fee every two years.
Optimistically speaking, if the program meets its needs and doesn’t require any additional funding, students can vote to terminate the fee. This allows for democratic flexibility in student spending. However, other arguably less important and more expensive costs — such as athletics fees — aren’t given expiration dates.
This movement to be greener was organized by the Student Environmental Association (SEA) and is nothing less than encouraging. The group’s efforts have educated students and administrators on the necessity and urgency of supporting environmental projects. SEA also conducted a campus-wide survey of 550 randomly selected students — 86 percent responded that they would support the fee.
The case for environmentalism may be made both altruistically and in self-interest.
Albert Schweitzer’s Origin for Reverence of Life states: “A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.”
The proposed project by the SEA fits Schweitzer’s criteria. It promotes the philosophy that all life should be valued and treats the environment as an entity the University must respect.
The movement also has more observable and concrete benefits.
The initiative has been heralded as a long-term investment strategy. With infrastructure, such as solar panels, already set up to produce energy, there will be less reliance on third-party electrical companies. This will reduce energy costs, cut down on carbon emissions and potentially create jobs — a vital necessity, considering the rising unemployment rate.