Sustainability fee collects dust without coordinator in place

By By Chris Mumford and By Chris Mumford

By Chris Mumford

Although the U approved and collected the $2.50 per-semester sustainability fee approved last spring to fund student-proposed sustainability projects, the means to use the money are not in place.

Sustainability efforts at the U have succeeded through the use of new technologies and behavioral changes but have so far left untapped the U’s greatest resource: students.
Last year’s student government successfully proposed a plan to allow students with ideas of how to make campus more efficient and environmentally friendly to turn those ideas into a reality.

Students will be able to turn to the Office of Sustainability’s new program coordinator for guidance. The coordinator will provide students with assistance writing and proposing sustainability initiatives, which will be submitted to a new committee that will in turn decide whether to fund the proposals using the sustainability fee.

But the coordinator position won’t be filled until October at the earliest. The proposal review committee still hasn’t been formed and likely won’t be until proposals begin to come together, said Office of Sustainability Director Myron Willson. The delay is partially because of Willson’s appointment as director in July and the process of defining the parameters, particularly the responsibilities, associated with the new position.

“We’ve already gotten a great pool of candidates,” Willson said.

The coordinator position will be three-quarters full time, but that might be subject to change after the job is filled and Willson and his colleagues get a better sense of the time commitment involved, Willson said.

The coordinator will also be expected to establish the sustainability fund’s budget, conduct outreach and monitor the progress of funded projects, among other things, according to the job description posted online.

“It’s taking a little longer that we hoped, but we’re hoping the wait will be well worth the effort,” Willson said.

The fund will be divvied up according to the type of project proposed8212;with 70 percent available for allocation to only those projects that generate a return within a set time frame. The coordinator will assist students in developing proposals that will meet this and other criteria necessary for committee approval.

The coordinator will not, however, have a role in determining which projects are approved.
“Most of (the coordinator’s) time will be working with students,” Willson said.

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Mike Mangum

After more than two months of debate, Ali Amundsen and the ASUU Senate approved the sustainability fee amid concerns that they would essentially be, as Amundsen said, ? just writing a blank check.?