Tag Archive | "Sustainability"

U.S. Green Building Council seeks to create a green campus

By Alisa Festagallo

University of West Florida students have started a chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council in hopes of creating a more environmentally friendly campus for students, faculty and staff.

Nye Grant, visiting assistant professor of the department of Applied Science, Technology and Administration is the sponsor of USGBC and brought the idea to the students. All the students were interested in making a better impact on the environment, so they started the club this semester.

Tyler Clukey, a junior construction engineering major serves as the president of the chapter. Clukey said he has big plans for this club and the members involved, like their first project, the Earthship.

The Earthship is going to be a structure composed of compacted dirt and used tires that can be used as a seating area right outside of the science and engineering building for students and faculty to hang out, study, and take a break from class.

”The Earthship provides a more laid back environment that’s not too uptight and takes your mind off of just school, school, school,” Clukey said.

There is a United States Green Building Council in Pensacola that was established in 2006 and extends from Escambia County to Bay County. Members of the USGBC at UWF have already attended one of their meetings and plan on collaborating with them throughout the year.

Besides their first project they will be meeting with the Student Government Association in order to get funding needed for their projects and their sponsor will be meeting with the Dean of the college and Associate Dean in order to get their Earthship project approved.

”We are trying to not just talk about clean sustainability but actually take action and start building structures safe for the environment,” Hanson said.

They have a base amount of students but are hoping to recruit more members by talking to people in and outside of their classes so they can find people that aren’t just specific to the construction engineering program.

For more information on the organization, you can contact Justine Hanson or Tyler Clukey.

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Students to vote on green energy fee referendum

On Nov. 2, University of West Florida students will vote on a proposal to add 25 cents to $1 per credit hour to student fees to fund sustainability projects on campus.

The non-binding referendum is intended to gauge student support for such a fee. Based on the results of the vote, the administration will decide whether to move forward.

So far, student support for the fee appears strong, despite a 15 percent tuition increase and a 20 percent reduction in Bright Futures scholarships funding this year. Out of 60 respondents to a poll on The Voyager page on Facebook, 40 said they would vote to support the fee.

There are also detractors, of course. At the Oct. 14 Student Government Association meeting, junior public relations major Philip Gamon addressed his concerns to the Senate. “I shouldn’t have to pay for the school to do what they should already be doing,” he said. “That’s another nickel and dime out of our pocket.”

“I place a high importance on environmental sustainability,” Gamon wrote in a later email. “That being said, I do not believe I should be forced into paying for environmental sustainability. I already pay building fees to this campus. If the campus would like to use that money and become more environmental friendly, go for it!”

Jacquie Ayala is the Florida organizer for the Southern Energy Network, the organization responsible for the Student Green Energy Fund project, of which the UWF proposal is a part.

She said that Gamon’s criticisms were common. “Unfortunately,” she wrote, “the reality is that administrators will rarely have enough money (or will power) they can allocate to do big, carbon-reducing, clean energy-implementing projects that we need to get our campuses off dirty energy.”

Josh Trimberger, a junior international studies major, said he was tired of being “nickeled and dimed to death.”

“I’m paying $1000 extra this semester over last semester for the same sub-par education,” he wrote. “If UWF wants money, how about they take it out of that extra $1000 they are getting from me this semester.”

Supporters of the proposal note that a student taking 12 credit hours per semester would be charged a maximum of $12 more per semester for the fee.

Trimberger disagreed with this assessment.“If you are paying UWF through student loans, then you are not simply paying them up to $12 a semester for this program,” he wrote. “You’re paying the interest that that $12 is going to accrue, as well.”

In his email, Gamon acknowledged that the cost of the fee was not prohibitive. “I come from a family where I can afford $24 per year,” he wrote, “but there are some students that work their way through college, and I do not think that adding a burden that can be done for free is the right move.”

Megan Keene, a junior pre-professional biology major, is one of the students Gamon worried about. She works two jobs, 40 to 60 hours each week.

“As a student less able to cope, I have learned the value of a dollar and the importance of a budget,” she wrote in an email. “ I may be a special case, but I think that it is important to do things to better the lives of people around you without expecting anything in return.”

“I can deal with a small raise in fees. I have already accepted the fact that tuition has been raised and my 100 percent Bright Futures scholarship isn’t really worth 100 percent of my tuition. We are already one step ahead of the world by being in college. Our futures are going to be ok when we leave here because we will have a higher education under our belts. So, what is $12 to $15 a semester going to do?”

Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Tammy McGuckin said that, if a clear majority of those who vote Wednesday support the fee, it will be voted on by the UWF Board of Trustees on Dec. 9. If the board approves the proposal, it would pass on to a vote by the state Board of Governors in February. If passed there, it would come back to the student body for a final, binding referendum and be implemented in fall 2012.

Once the fee was implemented, McGuckin said, the money would be allocated by a special committee consisting of an equal number of student and University representatives.

The fee would expire every three years, she said, so future classes would be able to decide whether to keep or abandon it.

The Student Environmental Action Society is advocating for passage of the fee. On Oct. 14, the SGA voted to remain neutral on the proposal.

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Students to vote on sustainability fee Nov. 2

Students will have the chance to vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to add 25 cents to $1 per credit hour to student fees. The money would be used for sustainability projects on campus. The date of the referendum was confirmed by both Student Government Association President Josh Finley and Student Environmental Action Society President Raechel Vecchio.

Vecchio said that students would be able to vote online, through their Argus accounts, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. She said that SEAS would also man several voting stations on the Cannon Greens during the late morning and afternoon.

Finley said that the SGA would have information on the proposal and a voting booth in the Commons from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

The referendum was approved by the SGA Senate on Oct. 7. The vote will be non-binding, and several steps will remain in the process of approving the fee. If students vote to support it, the proposal will be placed on the agenda for the Dec. 9 Board of Trustees meeting.

If the Board of Trustees approves the fee, it will then pass on to a vote by the state Board of Governors. If it passes all these steps, the proposal will come back for a final, binding student referendum before being implemented.

Vecchio said that she was optimistic about the vote, even though SEAS would only have one week to promote it. She said that she has found support among members of the University administration and the student body. “Most of the people I’ve talked to are really for it,” she said.

The SGA Senate has decided not to take a stance on the proposed fee. At its Oct. 14 meeting, the SGA voted down a bill to support the fee. Several senators said they felt they were not adequately informed on the issue to take a stance. Sen. Linzy Browne said that unclear wording in the bill also contributed to the confusion.

SEAS members will be on the Cannon Greens Oct. 24 to inform students about the proposal.

Malerie Shelton, marketing manager for dining services, said that dining services representatives would also be present to promote their reusable to-go containers. Shelton said dining services had offered the “eco clamshells” for quite some time, but the program had yet to gain momentum.

“We want to do away with our styrofoam to-go containers,” Shelton said. “We go through so many a semester.”

For a $5 deposit, students can receive one of the reusable containers. “They can bring it back to us dirty,” she said. “We’ll wash it for them.”

When students return the container to be washed, they receive a “green card” which lets the cashier know that they have a clamshell.

At the end of the year, students can return their container or green card and have their deposit returned to them.

The first 25 students to show up at the event on Oct. 24 will receive a clamshell and have the $5 deposit waived.

T.S. Strickland
Staff Writer

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SGA chooses to remain neutral on proposed sustainability fee

At its Oct. 14 meeting, the Student Government Association Senate declined to endorse a proposed student green energy fee. The vote was 13-7.

It was the second reading of the bill. The SGA had voted to endorse the fee on Oct. 7. However, confusion among senators over the purpose of the bill led to a second reading.

The confusion persisted this week.

Sen. Jonathon Williams suggested that the SGA vote the bill down as a sign of neutrality on the issue.

The purpose of the proposed fee is to fund sustainability projects on campus. On Oct. 7, the SGA approved a student referendum on the proposal. The student vote is to take place by November.

If passed by students, the fee would still have to be approved by the University of West Florida Board of Trustees and the state Board of Governors. It could ultimately add up to $1 per credit hour to students’ fees.

UWF junior Phillip Gammon addressed the senators on Oct. 14 and asked them not to endorse the fee. He said the fee was unnecessary.

“I shouldn’t have to pay for the school to do what they should already be doing,” Gammon said. “That’s another nickel and dime out of our pocket.”

“This will open the gateway for more and more fees,” he said.

No other bills were voted on at the Oct. 14 meeting.

The senate approved the appointment of Brian Miller as state and national affairs coordinator.

It also approved the appointment of 19 students to the Freshman Committee. They include Stephany Ashton, Lindsay Brammell, Afiya Brandon, Tyler Cordell, Alex Crozier, Cathlene Del Rosario, Vinese Evans, Markeitta Graham, Linda Gramminger, Randy Hightower, Zahre Jattan, Chynell Knowles, Steven Treweek, Jessica Vervoort, Tashiema Wilson, Avery Wright, Kendall Young, Amanda Marcenio, Sherell Wood and Alexandra Coxia.

Attachment: Student Body Statutes (with duties of state and national affairs coordinator and the Freshman Committee highlighted)

T.S. Strickland
Staff Writer

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UWF Students to vote on ‘Green Energy Fee’ by November

The University of West Florida Student Government Association Senate voted Friday to approve a student referendum on a proposed “Student Green Energy Fee.”

The referendum will take place by the end of October.

The fee, of no less than 25 cents and no more than $1 per-credit-hour, would provide funding for sustainability projects on campus, such as installing energy-efficient light bulbs in classrooms. The additional cost to students would not be covered by scholarships.

“We owe it to the students to give them a right to vote,” said SGA Senator Jessica Schaffer during debate over the proposal.

If approved by the UWF board of trustees and the state board of governors, the fee would take effect fall 2012. First, though, UWF officials want to be assured of the student body’s support of the fee.

“We’d like to see at least half the student body approve the proposal,” said Tammy McGuckin, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

Student Environmental Action Society members at Friday’s meeting said they were glad to see the bills approved. They said implementation of the fee would align UWF with other colleges, such as Florida State University and the University of South Florida, that have already implemented similar fees.

“This fee is to help UWF become more sustainable and save both money and energy,” SEAS volunteer coordinator Talia Smith said.

The senate approved two bills related to the fee Friday. The first, in addition to approving the referendum, signaled the SGA’s support of the fee proposal. The second bill contained the language of the referendum.

SGA President Josh Finley authored both bills.

Will Isern
Staff Writer

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SGA to vote Friday on sustainability fee

The Student Government Association will vote Friday on a proposal to add up to $1 per credit hour to students’ tuition. The money would be used to fund sustainability projects on campus.

The Student Green Energy Fund, which is being promoted  at UWF by the Student Environmental Action Society, is a statewide effort of the Florida Youth for Environmental Sustainability Coalition, a chapter of the Southern Energy Network.

According to www.studentgreenenergyfund.org, the fund has already been approved at the University of South Florida and New College.

If the SGA approves the proposal, students will be given the chance to vote on the fund in  a non-binding student referendum in November. If the student body approves the fund, it will then go to the Board of Trustees for approval.

According to the www.studentgreenenergyfund.org, the cost of the fund would be no more than $1 per credit hour and no less than $.25 per credit hour. The exact amount would be determined by the student body and the Board of Trustees.

The fee would not be covered by the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

“I really want the Student Green Energy Fund to pass, because I have seen the difference it has made in a school,” SEAS secretary Samantha LaFortune said in an email interview.

LaFortune said that her previous college, Palm Beach State College, erected two new, energy-efficient buildings while she was a student there.

“I want to see that green philosophy here at UWF,” LaFortune said.

According to www.studentgreenenergyfund.org, a specially formed committee would supervise how revenue was spent.  The committee would include no more than 12 members. Half would be students appointed by the SGA president, and the other half would be faculty and staff appointed by the university president.

SEAS president Raechel Vecchio said the group hoped the fund would be used to expand campus recycling programs, install more solar panels, broaden organic food options in campus dining locations, and even pursue a filtration system for campus water fountains.

For more information on the proposal, visit www.uwf.edu/SEAS. The SGA meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Commons auditorium.


Nicole Yeakos
Staff Writer

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