The university’s Sustainability Council announced this month it will award nearly $29,000 to seven green projects.
The seven projects in the most recent cycle of funding range from climate neutrality, a recycled art exhibition, video field lighting conversion and an Earth Day celebration.
The funding came from the $10-a-semester green fund student fee that was student-initiated in 2009. After approval from the SIU Board of Trustees, the fees have been used to support renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability projects.
In the past, the council has funded projects such as restoring Thompson Woods and providing research, solar energy and recycling bins on campus.
Susannah Bunny LeBaron, chair of the green fund committee, said the council typically gets proposals which would advance sustainability at SIU, reduce the university’s impact on the environment and have education outreach and research components.
She said the council of students, faculty and staff, as well as three subcommittees, follows the definition of sustainability according to the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future.
“Sustainability implies that the critical activities of a higher education institution are ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable, and that they will continue to be so for future generations,” the definition states.
She said the council uses the definition as an operating guide.
“The council aims to keep higher institutions economically sound, socially just and economically viable,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said there are three subcommittees of the sustainability group: the curriculum committee, the assessment and planning committee, and the green fund committee.
Michael Jakubowski, vice president of Project Eco-Dawgs, a sustainability group at SIU, said the Sustainability Council and other green groups on campus are important and beneficial.
“To me, going green means knowing your place on this Earth,” he said. “We should do as much as possible to reduce our footprint as a species. I’m afraid that the consequences for living as unsustainably as society does won’t be felt until it’s too late. We depend on this planet for everything; the least we could do in return is respect it.”
LeBaron said three of the five green fund committee members are students.
William Sutphin, a graduate student from Bartlett studying geography, said the sustainability council is very important and encourages students to be a part of it.
“By students getting involved with the sustainability council and other green projects, it helps our school become a better research school,” he said. “Society is taking a green turn and studies have shown that schools that are environmentally involved draw in more students.”
Sutphin said green projects on campus are a student-led initiative, which shows the university that students want the campus to be sustainable.
“The sustainability council projects provide a great opportunity for students to initiate and participate in research and create their vision of sustainability at SIU,” LeBaron said.
The Sustainability Council is currently accepting applications for green project proposals for the spring.