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BSF gets first proposals, winners to be announced before Thanksgiving

Published: October 29, 2010
Section: News

The Brandeis Sustainability Fund Board received its first proposals from individual and groups of students this week and held its first meeting reviewing the plans to use the new group’s $50,000 from the student activity fee to advance campus environmental efficiency and other goals.

The board, which in addition to officials like the dean of arts and sciences, student treasurer includes directly elected students, will evaluate which projects to fund based on feasibility, application to a Brandeis-specific goal, the level of community engagement and cost, according to elected member Susan Paykin ’11.

“This board and its money was created by students: it’s students’ money and we want the student body engaged” around these proposals,” she said.

The vote was created with an amendment to the Union Constitution calling for it to promote sustainability on campus by doling money to student ideas, which are not formally connected to a student group.

Paykin and Nick Polanco ’13 were elected to the board upon its creation.

“I love this and am thankful to be able to take this position,” Polanco said, “because the money has the ability to make change.”

On the uses of the money, Polanco said that some ideas would be “patched through” because of their feasibility and “cheap” cost of $500, but that some well-received proposals may cost up to $30,000.

Acknowledging that the campus-wide creation vote, while substantial, was not unanimous, Paykin restricted her definition of community engagement with the balance of the board’s mission,

“There’s always going to be opposition,” she said, “but it’s what we, Nick [Polanco] and I, were elected to do—represent what we thought was in the Brandeis sustainability goal’s best interests.”

Polanco said that any “lack of popularity [in the board’s decisions] could mean a lack of education on its sustainability.” He added that he believes the community would want whatever is more sustainable.

University Sustainability Coordinator Janna Cohen-Rosenthal ’03, who serves as the board’s non-voting chair, said the proposals reflected a wide and diverse net of ideas addressing many possible ways to improve general sustainability. She will work with drafters to make proposals better.

“For the next few weeks, students will refine the proposals, with the final draft being due by Nov. 12,” she said. “We’ll announce the winning proposals before Thanksgiving.”

Several of the board’s members addressed the Constitutional vagary that does not mandate when the total annual $50,000 must be spent, in one semester or split somehow between them.

“We mostly decided to spend as much money as we can,” Cohen-Rosenthal said. “There may be some left over, but we’re going to try to spend all of it.”