Student organizations finalize Environmental Sustainability Fund legislation

Cassidy Wilson

LUCC is currently collaborating with environmental student groups to finalize legislation concerning a new Environmental Sustainability Fund. Students at Lawrence can expect to see some new environmental initiatives take effect on campus in the next several years.

Assuming the legislation is passed, students will pay a small fee — around $15 per year — towards the fund, which will then be used to finance ambitious, long-term infrastructural changes. These projects will come from student proposals and must fill two main requirements: They must decrease Lawrence’s greenhouse gas emissions, either directly or indirectly, and they must have a projected payback time period. The fund will therefore replenish itself over time, ultimately passing savings on to the rest of Lawrence’s budget.

The benefits of this new fund, according to Lorraine Skuta ’13, Chair of LUCC’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, will be twofold. On one hand, it will provide a learning opportunity to students who come up with ideas and draft proposals. On the other hand, it will benefit Lawrence by saving money and making the university a leader among sustainable college campuses in the United States.

The idea for the Environmental Sustainability Fund came from Will Meadows ’13 and the Green Roots committee in the spring of last year. Students researched the existence and success of similar funds at small colleges across the country and decided that Lawrence should implement something similar. Since then, the legislation has undergone a long process of approving and refining its more specific details.

LUCC is currently in the process of establishing a specific committee that will oversee the use of this money. According to Skuta, the earliest that Lawrence might expect to see the fund go into effect would be the 2013-2014 school year.

Though no decisions have yet been made for certain regarding the potential use of the Environmental Sustainability Fund, Skuta commented that the Lawrence campus could see such varied projects as a wind turbine like the one recently added to Björklunden, an industrial composter for Bon Appétit or improvements to leaky dormitory windows.

Meadows added, “The span of changes we can make is parallel to the level of innovation the Lawrence body can produce.”

Overall, the fund should be a practical, environmentally responsible and highly educational addition to Lawrence’s budget. According to sophomore Chelsea Johnson, head of Greenfire, “The fund will begin to remind students that our engagement with the earth is one that requires commitment and planning.”

Meadows, who originally came up with the idea — but will have graduated before it goes into effect — is excited to see what future generations of Lawrentians will do with the money. He summed up its importance: “What this fund demonstrates is the commitment of the entire Lawrence community, not just a few individuals who consider themselves environmentalists. We all have an impact and we all can come together to do something about it.”