Harness ideas for savings

Student-suggested cost savings should come back in tuition reduction.

This page has devoted significant space to advocate for enhanced energy efficiency efforts throughout campus. Making changes can save millions of dollars, allowing more of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs dwindling state funding to go to teaching. While doing this may require additional expenses in the near term, the long-term payoff of these efforts will justify the initial investment. The UniversityâÄôs It All Adds Up public relations campaign, which has festooned sidewalks throughout campus with green reminders, encourages students to take simple steps to cut the UniversityâÄôs energy bills. Though the campaign provides important information, the administration should harness their ideas by actively soliciting their advice, instead of merely nagging students to do the right thing. Savings produced through student-led initiatives and ideas âÄî energy-related or otherwise âÄî should go directly into a tuition reduction fund to help offset tuition increases. The contribution of this fund should then be included as a line item in future University budgets, showing results and providing incentive. To start it off, the new stadium may be LEED-certified, but it needlessly consumes energy by constantly running massive display screens. The athletics department should turn them off and donate the savings to the tuition reduction fund. Second, instead of planting annual flowers and replacing a worn-out lawn every spring, plant native perennials that will last and put the savings into the tuition reduction fund. University officials need to get creative with cost savings to prove they are worth their salaries. This requires rethinking what is necessary for education as well as turning to students interested in their own bottom line.