Green Student Organizations Could Receive Extra Funding

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Student groups who commit themselves to being green in their practices may soon see a little more green in their pockets if the efforts of one student government project prove successful.

The ASUC Green Certification Program - a project spearheaded by Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein - would allow student groups that meet certain requirements to receive additional funding and will be launching its pilot program Friday. Five groups will participate in the one-semester pilot.

"Student groups are the bedrock of student life at Cal, so by targeting student groups, you can have such a great impact on increasing environmental awareness and reducing the campus's environmental footprint," Goldstein said.

The program submitted an abstract Monday to receive a $78,000 grant from The Green Initiative Fund - a program that uses student fees to finance sustainable projects on campus - which would be the source of the extra money for student groups for five years, according to Goldstein.

"Would I like to see it funded? Absolutely," said Katherine Walsh, coordinator for the fund. "I think it could have an effect on a large number of students, and we're trying to get as many students involved in TGIF as possible."

Though Walsh is not a voting member of the fund's committee, she has been working with members of the project to assist them in their plans.

If the program is funded, Goldstein said the ASUC Senate would have to amend its finance bylaws to outline the program and stipulate that certified groups would be eligible for supplemental funding.

To assist participants in meeting the requirements, the pilot groups will be overseen by the Green Certification Auditing Team, which will help them find the best way to meet requirements for certification.

Upon certification, Goldstein said the extra funding the groups would be eligible for would allow them to enlist sustainable practices they might not have otherwise been able to afford.

ASUC Finance Officer Anuj Kamdar said he acknowledged this concern but said there are cost-efficient ways that groups can practice sustainability.

"There's definitely very cheap options that are also green friendly," Kamdar said. "But having TGIF money available makes it a lot easier for groups to actually find these practices."

The certification program is not the only environmentally conscious project currently in the works for the student government. The senate passed a bill Wednesday night supporting the creation of an LED board - also aimed at promoting sustainability - to be installed on the southeast corner of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union.

Goldstein, who authored the bill, said its goal is to help the campus meet its 2020 zero-waste goal by allowing student groups to advertise on the sign, free of charge, to cut down on paper waste from fliers.

He said he hopes advertising revenue from campus-affiliated businesses will make back most of the cost of the construction of the sign - which he said is around $37,000 - though he added that he wanted to ensure the sign would not be "corporatized."

According to Kamdar, encouraging groups to use fewer fliers could create major cost savings for the ASUC, though he said the amount of savings is still undetermined.

To partially cover the cost of the sign, the ASUC Auxiliary requested a $15,000 grant from the fund. The rest of the cost will likely be split among the ASUC, the Auxiliary and the Graduate Assembly, according to Goldstein.

"The sustainability movement is the future of humanity's comfortable living on planet Earth," Goldstein said. "And at Berkeley, which has been on the top 10 lists of the greenest schools in the world, I think we're just doing all we can to push the envelope on sustainable initiatives and changing practices."

Tags: THE GREEN INITIATIVE FUND, ASUC AUXILIARY, ASUC SENATE


J.D. Morris is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected]



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