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SEA proposes ‘green fees’

Student organization hopes to create a “sustainability fund” through amendment to Union Constitution

Published: April 16, 2010
Section: News

Students for Environmental Action (SEA) have proposed a series of amendments to the Student Union Constitution that would raise the student activities fee, paid alongside tuition, for the purpose of creating a Brandeis “sustainability fund.”

If the amendment is passed, the fee would be raised by $7.50 per semester, SEA President Hannah Saltman ’12 said.

Saltman pointed to the success other universities, including the University of California-Berkeley, University of North Carolina and William and Mary, have had in adding small amounts, or “green fees,” to regular tuition.

“This fund [would] finance student project proposals for sustainability,” she said. The Student Activity Fee is currently $324 a year.

The proposed money could be requested by any student and not a particular club or organization. According to SEA’s paperwork on the amendments, a board with students, faculty, staff and Facilities Services’ existing sustainability coordinator would oversee the fund.

The student representatives to the board would be voted on by the student body during regular Student Union elections.

After achieving the required number of signatures upon presentation to the Senate Sunday, the student body will vote on it April 26.

“A wide variety” of projects would fall under the permit of the trust, Saltman said, from recycling, green chemistry in the school’s labs and electric cars for use by Facilities. “This is students’ chance to be creative about how they want to improve Brandeis.”

Some students may vote against the project simply because general tuition costs are paid at the same time and continue to rise.

Anticipating those concerned about the money, SEA member and former President Matt Schmidt ’11 said he thinks “there will be a little opposition, but the amount is small and [supporters] don’t expect too much of a challenge.”

“It’s a rational decision because [Brandeis] is already committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, so it makes sense to have a green fee to support that,” he said. “The university is [otherwise] paying for our emissions.”