Monday, September 21, 2009

"Interview with Senator about a $5 green fee on everyone's tuition" or "C&W tries serious journalism"

The C&W doing serious journalism? Cross your fingers as we explore this new, uncharted territory.

So the Temple Student Government senate had their first meeting today, and in it passed a resolution that could end up adding $5 to everyone's tuition. The bill, proposed by College of Education Senator Danny Doherty, would add a "green fee" to each student's tuition and then use that money to advance sustainability on Temple's campus. We sat down with Doherty to find out more about the resolution.

C&W: Ok dude, tell us about the plan.

Doherty: Well, in general, Temple has not done enough to advance sustainability on campus; there is no source of money to be used towards green projects. The purpose of this resolution is to create that support, in fact about $300,000 a year's worth. The money will come from adding $5 to every student's tuition, and will go to areas such as the Office of Sustainability. Temple has a responsibility to the community, as they've recently recognized, and a clean environment is certainly one of those responsibilities. The EPA has listed North Philly as one of the top 5 most populated urban areas, kids are 25% more likely to develop asthma, and by improving these conditions Temple has an opportunity to really make a difference.

C&W: Well, Temple hasn't exactly been ignoring sustainability, didn't the Computer Recycling Center just win an award?

Doherty: This is certainly true, the CRC won that award, the recycling department is better than it used to be, even small things like double-sided printing at the TECH center make a difference, but there is so much more to be done. I really see these as baby steps, and we still need to tackle the larger projects, like purchasing renewable energy and implementing campus-wide energy star light bulbs.

C&W: Can you tell us a little more about the resolution itself and the student government aspect?

Doherty: Well today's document was just a resolution- the first and easiest step of the process. All this is saying is that the senate, with representatives from every one of the colleges at Temple, is representing the student voice by saying they approve of the general idea of this plan. The student organization Students for Environmental Action is co-sponsoring the bill, and will be involved in the process. They will be collecting signatures and aim to get 3,500, or roughly 10% of the student body. In the meantime, the Senate will begin working on the administrative aspect, figuring out the details of how this could get done. Once all the chips are in place, there will be another vote in the senate on a bill that actually pulls the trigger.
C&W: What do you think the biggest challenge will be in seeing this through?

Doherty: It's definitely going to be convincing students that the bill is in their best interests. Environmentalism is to everyone's benefit. Most of these changes won't be seen in the four years that students are in this school, so they will think "this doesn't do anything for me, it's just $5 more I have to pay." But we're going to have to try and convince them that it's good in the long term.

C&W: What's your game plan for pushing this through?

Doherty: We're going to have to go to the students; into classrooms, dorms, everything. Tabling won't work, we're going to have to take this to students where they can't ignore us, and then keep pressure on the administration. Temple is in the midst of the 2020 planning and this should always be on their minds. These new buildings need to be LEED certified.

C&W: Have you talked to any administrators about this? Something tells us they're not going to be loving this.

Doherty: Not really. We have talked to Sandy in the Office of Sustainability quite a bit, and she is with us and thinks this is a good thing. The bottom line is that this is a student effort, and if the students want it, it will happen. I think this is certainly a good thing for Ann Weaver Hart. I think she received some criticism for signing the President's Climate Commitment, but then just kind of created the Office of Sustainability to let them deal with it and doesn't constantly keep green in the forefront. This is a great way to show she is truly concerned with sustainability.

C&W: Who is gonna decide where all this dough is gonna go?

Doherty: Well for one, the board of trustees. We're hoping a lot will be given to the Office of Sustainability to decide what to do with, and the recycling department as well. They do a great job with what they have, but the reason there are so few recycling bins on campus is because they don't have the resources to go pick it up. Practical applications are refitting dorms, a J and H composting program for all the wasted food, which can go to Temple University Gardens. Another practical application is for Temple to offset their energy usage. For example, we can't build windmills for energy here on campus, but if we build one say, in a suburban area, we just offset our energy usage by providing efficient energy elsewhere.

C&W: OK so last question: I'm a Temple student who likes my $5, why the hell is this worth me giving it up?

Doherty: Honestly, it's $5. Skip a party or a slice of pizza or two, and help Temple become more sustainable. There are fees in tuition like the rec fee, which is about $50, that many students don't even use. This $5 is for everyone's benefit, it's for Temple's benefit.

1 comment:

Blanda said...

Love this. Keep up the good work guys/gals.