The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) passed a set of by-laws on Sunday night that will govern the newly-created, student-financed Green Fund’s implementation when it goes into effect next fall, assuming it is approved by the Board of Trustees. The fund will be supported by an optional $15 per student biannual fee.
“We’ve had so many dedicated people work on [developing] the Green Fund with us and so much enthusiasm, which is how we’ve been able to succeed,” said the Environmental Organizers’ Network (EON) Green Fund Committee Co-Chair Julia Michaels ‘12. “I imagine it will open up a lot of opportunities for people with good ideas and make them happen on campus.”
According to the new by-laws, a Green Fund Committee (GFC) comprised of the WSA Sustainability Coordinator, four other students, and a University staff member will oversee the fund. The committee members will be chosen by the WSA Sustainability Coordinator, the WSA Coordinator, and a member of the Organization and External Affairs Committee next fall. Positions will be open to all members of the student body.
The committee will determine which green initiatives to fund in consultation with Physical Plant and the Sustainability Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship (SAGES). The committee will accept proposals throughout the semester and will allot the money to specific initiatives several weeks before the end of the term.
“The process for funding projects will probably be very similar to the SBC,” said WSA Sustainability Coordinator Josh Levine ’12. “You’ll submit a proposal, the committee will review it, and you’ll talk to the committee and go through a review process before funds are actually submitted.”
Levine estimates that the GFC will distribute approximately $70,000 annually, although the exact figure is unknown because students retain the option to opt-out of the fee via their student portfolios.
The GFC’s staff member will likely be a member of Physical Plant according to Levine. Environmental Organizers’ Network (EON) Green Fund Committee Co-Chair Julia Jonas-Day ’12 stressed the importance of working with Physical Plant in developing student proposals.
“We don’t expect you to have the complete proposal worked out but you should get in touch with Physical Plant and decide if it’s something that’s realistic,” Jonas-Day said.
Levine said that the committee will focus on funding initiatives that would not have otherwise received financial support from the WSA or administration.
“There is concern that the University and the WSA will want to stop funding projects that they currently fund and basically shift the burden to the Green Fund,” said Levine. “I think there are a lot of [sustainability initiatives] that aren’t being funded right now because of finances and hopefully a lot of ideas that haven’t been thought of.”
Although implementation of the fund still rests on approval from the Board of Trustees, Levine said that current student involvement with the fund is in itself hopeful.
“I’m really excited to see how much student support there is for this,” Levine said. “Just the fact that students want this to exist, students want to make this contribution, want to make sustainability a priority on campus, says really good stuff about Wesleyan.”