If you were on campus during the week of April 16-19, you probably know what Earth Week is. In celebration of Earth Day, EvCC strives to host creative and fun activities for students, employees and the community, while fostering awareness about the struggles we face in regards to the environment, climate, and resource consumption. Earth Week has become a looked-forward to tradition on campus, but this tradition may not be with us for much longer…
The Green Fee
The EvCC Green Fee is a proposed student fee of 50 cents per credit, up to fifteen credits, not to exceed $7.50 per quarter for each student. It was proposed by a group of students, including the Students for Environmental Action club and members of the student government, in response to concerns over the impending budget shortfalls for the EvCC Sustainability Initiative (more on that here). In accordance with state law, this fee has to be subject to a student body election to determine whether it should be assessed. This election is scheduled for May 21-24, 2018. Ballots will be cast online using the MyEvCC Student Portal.
If it passes the election, three major developments would occur:
- The creation of the Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF): This fund would serve to fund student projects that focus on sustainability or the environment. A student, or group of students, could submit a proposal to receive a grant from the CSF to pay for their project. The proposal would be presented to a committee of 5 students and 2 employees, who will vote on whether to approve or reject the project proposal.
- Formalize the Office of Sustainability: While EvCC has a full time staff member with part-time hourly assistants to coordinate the sustainability program, the Green Fee would be used to permanently establish an Office of Sustainability, which would help to manage the fee, the CSF, and its associated programs, while also continuing the effort to green the campus.
- Student jobs: Within the Office of Sustainability, three student positions would be created and funded each year. These students would serve as the public faces of the EvCC Sustainability program and work to keep the student body actively engaged in making EvCC a more environmentally friendly, socially equitable and fiscally responsible campus.
The relationship of Earth Week and the Green Fee
As mentioned, the funding for Earth Week (which comes from the depleted sustainability budget) is not long for this world. In the past, money left over from grants that were intended for other projects like energy efficiency retrofits was pooled into the Sustainability Grant Fund. This was relied on for all student engagement activities hosted by the Sustainability manager.
After the end of this school year, there will hardly be enough funds in the sustainability budget to get through another years worth of activities. Those lovely green water bottles you may have got for free at one of our events? Paid for by the sustainability budget. The wonderful presentation by Ciscoe Morris? Also paid for by the sustainability budget. Nearly all the events require some kind of payment out of the sustainability budget, and it adds up quick!
Unless a long-term solution is implemented, we can prepare to say goodbye to many of these activities and programs. Dozens of students have expressed their concern about this, and most of us agree that something has to happen to change the status quo on carbon emissions, environmental toxicity, habitat and biodiversity loss, pollution, and many other global challenges.
This is why we, the students on the EvCC Green Fee Committee, are working to hold this election and secure funding for the program. But, we are also trying to change the entire premise of the EvCC Sustainability program. If its funded by a student fee, that would put the power to make the changes we need in our hands, as students. We would determine how the money is spent, what projects get funded, and ultimately how our campus approaches sustainability. So, in the end, we aren’t trying to just save the program by asking the students to pay for it. We are trying to revolutionize it by empowering the students to lead us down the path of sustainability, and ultimately giving ourselves a bigger voice in the long-term development of EvCC.
If you want to know how you can help, visit our webpage: EverettCC.edu/GreenFee, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, don’t forget to vote!