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SOARE seeks to gain student voting majority on Sustainable Campus Fee Committee

By GREGORY JONES

Guest Writter

Since 2007 every student at APSU has been billed $10 per semester along with tuition to contribute to the Sustainable Campus Fee (SCF).  This fee was created in response to a 2006 referendum that indicated 64.30 percent of the student body was in favor of APSU increasing its energy efficiency and producing or purchasing renewable energy to offset the environmental and human health hazards posed by burning fossil fuels — the university’s chief source of energy.

To manage and administer the SCF, the Sustainable Campus Fee Committee (SCFC) was created, composed of both student and faculty members. Proposals highlighting renewable energy, energy efficiency or sustainability are submitted to the committee by students and faculty for consideration.

APSU is one of many universities in Tennessee with similar committees. MTSU, UT, TTU and ETSU also have such committees.  Unlike some of these other institutions, there is a somewhat inconsistent manner in which the funds are accumulated and the manner in which they are allocated at APSU.  This does not necessarily mean the funds are being used for purposes other than originally intended when the SCF was created, but rather there is an inconsistency between who is supplying the funds and who is distributing the funds.

The Tennessee Board of Regents Guideline B-065 explains the committee shall be “comprised of an appropriate ratio of students, faculty and staff.”  Until a university forms a precise definition, the ambiguous use of the word “appropriate” may be mistaken, thus the students may be misrepresented in deciding how to allocate their own sustainable fund.

According to APSU’s August 2010 report of Standing Committees, Advisory Committees and Councils, the ratio is defined as four voting students, two voting faculty members, one voting staff member, a student affairs representative and a committee chair (manager of environmental health and safety).

The Students Organized to Advance Renewable Energy (SOARE) has developed a proposal thatwill reform APSU’s current guidelines for the SCFC.  Under the model of other universities across Tennessee, SOARE will recommend students possess a four to one voting majority on the SCFC, with other faculty and staff members holding advisory positions.

Additionally, the chairperson shall be appointed from a department or position that does not possess a direct or foreseeable ability to use SCF funds beyond the intended use for sustainable campus projects or programs. We are interested in student feedback about this reform and urge any compelled students to issue responses about this change by contacting the university, provide comments to The All State referencing this letter, visit with SOARE at our weekly Tuesday meetings at 4 p.m. in MUC 308 or attend SCFC meetings, which are open to the APSU community. TAS

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