How is ASUU doing?

[Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series about the effectiveness of the U’s student government so far in this academic year.]

Moving forward

With more than $1.4 million in hand, this year’s Associated Students of the University of Utah is moving forward with its campaign agenda, perhaps in a more effective manner than previous ASUU administrations.

Continuing the work that Micah Jeppsen started last year, Bobbi Freeman and the ASUU Special Projects Board are turning a year of research and planning into a campus recycling program.

Jeppsen began researching recycling programs, paying special attention to existing programs at other Utah schools in November 2003. By January 2004, he and his auxiliary board had passed a bill authorizing a pilot recycling program and were meeting with U administrators.

“Micah was very aggressive, in a positive way, in breaking the ice with the administration and working toward a program,” said Michael Perez, vice president of administrative services. “I think his efforts made it easier for Bobbi to keep the momentum going.”

Getting started

After raising $5,000 for the program, Jeppsen began his efforts of convincing administrators that though a recycling program may not be immediately profitable, it was still in their best interests to invest in it.

“A recycling program is going to be created at the U sometime,” Jeppsen said. “Numbers show that the sooner it happens, the less costly it will be.”

Freeman took this idea and continued. A number of competing consultants were evaluated for the right to perform the audit. The U recently chose Cascadia Consulting, the same company that performed a recycling audit for the University of Washington.

“Cascadia’s audit should be conducted at the end of March or the beginning of April,” Freeman said. “It will be short and simple, taking between 10 days and two weeks.”

In an effort to rally student support for recycling at the U, Freeman and her board hosted Recycling Week last November. Despite spending roughly $5,000 on T-shirts and wristbands used during Recycling Week, most students were unaware of the event.

“I heard about it once in a class from a peer adviser,” said freshman Mackenzie Horton. “But I didn’t see any fliers, any wristbands or really know what it was about.”

Working together

“When the audit is complete there will be several different plans to choose from,” Freeman said. “When it comes time for the administration to pick a plan, we’re hoping widespread student support will urge them to choose the best plan for the U, even if it is costlier.”

Like Jeppsen, Freeman and her board have been working with Perez and have been able to collaborate with the administrative personnel that will make a program possible.

“In the past, ASUU has dumped the problem on the administration and asked them to make things happen,” Freeman said.

“We’re trying to work with them this time, not just demand their money.”

Based on past responses from the U administration, the main problem is that the money simply isn’t there, and the notion that recycling pays for itself isn’t true.

“Finances account for a lot when the administration is making decisions,” Perez said.

Freeman addresses this problem by offering ASUU funds to help subsidize the costs as well as add weight to her words.

“If you put some money down and show you’re serious, the administration will take you much more seriously,” said former ASUU president Adrian Johnson.

This method of student/faculty cooperation makes the administration more comfortable to commit to the program.

“ASUU, particularly Micah, made recycling the top priority for the administration,” Perez said. “He and Bobbi also offered a plan and the research so the administration has something substantial to work with.”

“Eventually we’d like to have a recycling coordinator, someone whose entire job is to supervise recycling on campus,” Freeman said.

“Until then, its up to ASUU.”

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Patrick Muir contributed to this article.