Give campus initiative a chance

By By Chase Clyde

By Chase Clyde

Last year, the Associated Students of the University of Utah, the U Board of Trustees and the Utah State Board of Regents overwhelmingly approved a fee increase of $2.50 to fund the Sustainable Campus Initiative. Some have voiced concerns about the process of hiring a new program coordinator to manage and oversee the initiative. The position remains vacant, and some complain that students are charged a fee that is going to waste.

It is important to recognize the logistical issues of implementing a program such as the initiative. The first hike in students’ fees for the initiative was collected during the 2009 Summer Semester. The fees were not allocated to the initiative until the beginning of Fall Semester 2009. The office has spent the past few months trying to hire the best person to fill the position of coordinator. It is ironic that those who questioned the initiative in the first place because of the rushed manner it was proposed and implemented are now calling for an immediate and unrealistic use of the funds. The Office of Sustainability expects to have someone hired by the middle of November.

I don’t understand the rush to denounce the program. It seems as if it would be more effective and proactive to focus on the long-term environmental and financial benefits this program will have. Let’s get excited about making our campus a leader in the sustainability movement.

Great things happen at universities. Our university has great thinkers. In 2007, our school was honored to have one of our professors, Mario Capecchi, win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The initiative will allow for the greatest minds in sustainability to have the support they need to win their own Nobel Prize.

To protect our natural environment, the best sustainable ideas must be supported and funded. By far the vast majority of the scientific community recognizes the threat of global climate change, and Salt Lake City has some of the worst air quality in the country. This justifies each student spending $2.50 per semester to fund bold, innovative projects that will allow the U to become the leader of sustainability in America and maybe even the world.

We all see sprinklers watering the lawns on campus on rainy days. Why not propose a plan to xeriscape large areas on campus? In the long run, this will cut down on water bills and maintenance fees while preserving limited desert water.

Last year, when the fee increase was presented to ASUU, other proposals were articulated. There are already proposed plans to detect wasteful energy use in the Residence Halls. Another idea was to install motion detectors in vending machines, so the lights would turn off when no one is around. There is also a plan to install energy-efficient lights in the Union. Current bulbs use nearly 90 watts, and new bulbs would use fewer than 10 watts.

We live in a spectacular state. I spent the past weekend at home with my family in Southern Utah. Being from Moab, I’d like to think I’ve always had a sense of appreciation and respect for Earth’s environment. Driving back up to Salt Lake City the other day, I looked out the window and was reminded about how truly special Utah is. Living in Utah is a privilege. Nowhere else in the world is the geography so unique and diverse. By attending the U, most of us get to live along the Wasatch Front. The mountain ranges to our east and west provide countless recreational opportunities. The U is the perfect place to become the leader of campus sustainability. I’m proud to live in such a spectacular state, and I’m proud to attend a university that is investing in ideas to revolutionize sustainability through inventive and groundbreaking uses of technology.

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