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New fund started by students aims to support environmental projects on campus

By Danielle Gamble
On August 15, 2012

For $5 a semester, Toledo students can supplement an eco-friendly grant fund created and overseen by their peers.

The Student Green Fund, now an optional portion of each student’s bill, is a new university initiative that allows students to submit grant proposals for projects geared toward increasing sustainability and reducing energy consumption.

Nathan Reaver, a graduate student in bioengineering, is one of several volunteers spearheading the student-motivated initiative under the Office of Auxiliary Services.

“The idea of the green fund is that students are making a commitment by accepting money and taking ownership of this aspect of the university,” Reaver said. “This is about students taking ownership and accepting their role in the university’s mission.”

Reaver said projects that may receive a Green Fund grant can range from large undertakings that reduce energy consumption in buildings or stimulate local food production, to small ventures that add more recycling bins or gardens on campus.

Reaver said materials to submit a grant application will hopefully be made available by the second week of classes.

Tony Bova, a senior majoring in chemistry, said the project has finally become a reality now that students who wish to support the program can add the optional fee to their bill.

By accessing their myUT account and accessing the Student Green Fund site under “My Registration Steps,” students can find information about the Student Green Fund and accept the per-semester charge. The fee must be applied by the end of the add/drop period for classes.

The original plan involved adding an opt-out fee that students would pay unless the item was deleted from their bill, similar to the student Legal Services fee.

“To keep with President [Lloyd] Jacobs decision to have no rise in student fees, we were asked to make a concession and go with an opt-in fee,” Bova said.

The difference between an opt-in fee and opt-out fee was to be voted on by the student body in last year’s Student Government elections. Due to logistical errors, however, the item did not make the ballot.

“There was a miscommunication between SG and the election board, and by the time everything was handled, it was too late,” Bova said. “We were ticked at first, but now it’s water under the bridge. Now we have a chance to prove that the project is worthwhile.”

Bova said he and other Student Green Fund helpers are working to get this item placed on this year’s ballot.

Reaver said once the grant proposals are submitted, they will be overseen by a committee of five undergraduates, two graduate students, one faculty member and one administrator. While a representative from SG, Graduate Student Association and Faculty Senate will be appointed, the other student positions can be held by any who are interested in applying.

“Hopefully it brings more pride to the students, and it will help students become more aware about what’s happening on-campus,” Reaver said. “Right now, there’s a disconnect – I feel like if students were more aware of what the university’s already doing, they’d take more pride in our university.”

The committee will not only decide what projects to fund, but oversee and help bring the proposals to fruition. Reaver said the university and the Green Fund will be raising awareness on the university website, Facebook and around campus.

While Reaver admitted some proposals may overlap with current University of Toledo projects, he said the projects themselves are all about increasing student involvement.

“The students are going to see a return on these investments — they’re saving themselves,” Reaver said.

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