Sustainability fee explained

Mar 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News

Abby Jo Moore


As the Public Affairs theme for 2009 at Missouri State University, sustainability has caused a lot of talk on campus the past few months. But what does the term mean specifically in the university context, and what might the sustainability proposition bring about for students?

The 2009 Referendum for a Sustainability Fee brought to vote at Student Government Association defines the term generally as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

More specifically, the proposed resolution would require a $2 student fee increase per semester for each student. Courtney Wendel, Director of Public Relations for SGA, explained that the money would go into a fund and then be allocated by a commission of students who decide which projects to support.

As far as the exact allocation of funds, part of the money would go to support recycling, but the majority would be in the hands of the students. Various groups and organizations on campus will apply for funding in order to host speakers, events and other projects associated with sustainability. Then, the students on the commission will consider suggestions and choose where to distribute the funds.

Although the initial vote failed in the senate during the last SGA meeting, plans to reinstate the proposition are expected to come within the next month.

“There is discussion about bringing it back up,” Wendel said. “We’re just waiting on a timeline.”

The text of the resolution itself raised some controversy among Senators of SGA. Some were “concerned that it was biased,” Wendel explained.

In the original language of the resolution, part of the text involved background information explaining the benefits of sustainability and the reasons for the referendum. Various lines were debated upon and cut by the SGA Senate, but according to Wendel, “The actual referendum clause itself did not change at all.”

At this point, the university has agreed to match up to $75,000 of the funds, meaning $150,000 overall could be raised to support the sustainability projects. However, that possibility remains available only within the present budget. Since the next Board of Governors meeting in April will discuss university funds for the upcoming year, the updated budget may not include the potential to match if the referendum has not passed.

Despite some of the controversy over the resolution, a passing vote in the Senate would not mean an immediate $2 increase in tuition. “The resolution is about giving the students the opportunity to vote,” Wendel clarified. If passed in the senate, the resolution would be brought before student vote so that the student body could make the final decision.

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