Green Fund: Aggies & Longhorns Unite
College Station students raise their fees to go green
By Katherine Gregor, 8:04AM, Fri. Mar. 5, 2010
Texas A&M University students have voted to raise their fees, to create an "Aggie Green Fund." It will raise up to $300,000 per year for sustainability. The campus joined UT Austin in a statewide Think Green Fund campaign to raise millions for sustainability. The fees were made legal by a new 2009 state law authored by Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin.
From A&M press release:
College Station, TX – In a campus wide vote on held Wednesday and Thursday, students at Texas A&M University chose to raise their own fees by $3 per semester to support environmental services on campus. The move will create what's been dubbed the "Aggie Green Fund" which will raise up to $300,000 per year for sustainability.
"I feel privileged to have been one of the students leading the Aggie Green Fund initiative," said Aggie senior Faby Molina. "The amount of support we have seen from the student body, both at Texas A&M and across the state, shows that students are not only ready to embrace sustainability initiatives, but more importantly, are ready to lead them."
The vote comes after a new state law passed in 2009 gave approval to public colleges and universities in Texas to establish such fees if they were supported by the student body. HB 3353 was authored by Elliot Naishtat (D-Austin) and co-authored by Fred Brown (R-College Station) and provides guidelines on how the money can be spent.
"By approving the Aggie Green Fund referendum, the Texas A&M student body has sent a clear message about the importance of incorporating sustainability into our campus dynamics and it affirms that our campus administration is moving in the direction desired by students," said Kelly Wellman, Sustainability Officer for Texas A&M.
Texas A&M and UT Austin aren't the only campus going green this spring. The "Think Green Fund" campaign was launched in February by ReEnergize Texas, a coalition of student groups focused on climate and energy issues. Students across Texas have joined the campaign to establish campus green funds on up to 7 public universities in Texas including UT El Paso, UT Pan American, UT San Antonio, the University of North Texas and the University of Houston.
The green fund campaign is unique in that the Texas Legislature gave pre-approval to the necessary fees during the 2009 legislative session, clearing a major hurdle for most student-driven fees.
"It shows that our state lawmakers think this is an important priority," said Jackie Trevino, leader of the campus campaign at UT Pan American.
Most of the remaining campuses will hold special elections on Earth Day, April 22nd. If all 7 participating campuses pass the initiative, they will join Texas State in giving Texas 8 public colleges with green fees, more than any other state.