Two student organizations at Northern Arizona University are proposing to raise the university’s annual “green fee” from $5 to $25. This Green Fund supports all sustainability projects in the campus.
Campus Sustainability Goals
The student organizations involved in the campaign state that this increase is essential to support the cost of achieving the campus’ sustainability goals.
Dylan Lenzen, co-chair of one of the student groups working on the campaign, said, “The university has spent a lot of money and gotten a lot of return on reaching low-hanging fruits, but the next steps, like getting renewable energy projects installed, cost a lot of money and without increasing the Green Fund, there is really no mechanism for making sure they happen.”
The estimated $800,000 that would come from the increase in green fees would be used to finance long-term and major sustainability projects, such as overhauling the campus recycling system, installing a high-quality and centralized irrigation system, putting up additional water bottle refilling stations around the campus, and researching carbon neutrality.
Proposal’s Driving Factor
Lenzen also states that the motivation to propose a green fee increase is due to the limited budget. In 2015, the Green Fund committed $100,000 – about 50% of the budget – annually for the next ten years to solar panel installation at the Native American Cultural Center and the San Francisco Street Parking Garage. Despite the fact that this investment is in line with the goals of Green Fund, this decision made the fund limited to support other sustainability projects in the campus.
Another group will manage the fund from the proposed fee increase. The Green Fund will continue to manage the current $5 green fee to support the smaller-scale sustainability projects of students and its other investments. However, the Coordinating Committee for Campus Sustainability – a group of student representatives and faculty that advise the Cabinet and the President about campus sustainability goals and issues – will handle the fund from the proposed $20 increase.
The campaign was originally targeting the spring deadline to obtain NAU President Rita Cheng’s support for the proposed fee increase and her agreement to include the additional fee to the annual tuition of the students. However, the student organizations involved in the campaign had to get student and administrative support first before submitting the proposal for the President’s consideration. As a result, the planned springtime campaign turned into a year-long battle.
The student groups are now focusing on gathering signatures from students. They organize various forums and events to spread awareness on campus sustainability projects and goals. They hope to gain the student support as soon as possible.