MSA to support green fee

The Sustainable Legacy Fund will face a student-wide vote.

Emily Cutts

The Minnesota Student Association is getting behind a proposed new student fee that would help lay groundwork for future sustainable projects.

After substantial debate during forum Tuesday, the association voted to adopt a position statement in favor of the Sustainable Legacy Fund.

âÄúWe are very excited that MSA voted to support the Sustainable Legacy Fund, however, our success is limited in the sense that we basically just called for a referendum vote to get student support,âÄù said Phillip Kelly, co-chairman for Campus Beyond Coal and an MSA representative.

In order to raise student fees, the proposed increase will have to pass a student referendum.

In October, MSA adopted a resolution that called for a student-wide vote on all nonacademic projects funded by students. This will almost certainly delay the process past the end of the school year.

According to Ben Strasheim, president of student group Green Biz, the fund could be used for projects that do not meet criteria for other sources of funding, like grants.

The projects may be a little more experimental and ultimately help the University of Minnesota meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Kelly said fees can be used in projects like installing LED lights in the UniversityâÄôs theaters, green roofs or turning manure into energy.

Originally, a $10 fee was proposed to an MSA forum meeting at the end of March. But after discussion with MSA, an exact fee amount has not yet been determined, though it has been capped at $10.

âÄúIt seems like it is a good enough cause for $10; I would be fine with it,âÄù said Thomas Johnson, a first-year graduate student. âÄúI would be in favor of them slowly moving away from coal to things that would be more sustainable.âÄù

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly is expected to vote on the issue in the next two weeks.

Other fees like the proposed Sustainable Legacy Fund are used at universities and colleges across the country.

The University of Minnesota-Crookston introduced a green fee in 2009.

The schoolâÄôs fee began at $2 and was raised to $4 last year, said Dan Svedarsky, director for CrookstonâÄôs Center for Sustainability. The money has been used to hire student assistants in its Center for Sustainability and to pay for speakers and âÄúspecial projects.âÄù

âÄúIt was hatched up by the Crookston Student Association,âÄù Svedarsky said. âÄúThey had a retreat âĦ and they just talked about sustainability and earth stewardship âĦ and they came up with the idea of this green fee.âÄù

The UniversityâÄôs model would be a revolving fund where a portion of the money would be returned to use for future sustainable projects. Its plans most closely resemble the green fee at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.