Column: Youth are changing the world, one campus at a time

By Gus Bode

Student Environmental Center

The results are in.

Last week, students voted overwhelming in support of the $10-per-semester student “green” fee to be used for on campus renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability projects and research. It’s now obvious that students at SIUC are ready to step up and do their part to chill out global warming, battle resource plundering and put an end to injustice by getting serious about conservation, efficiency and renewable energy – in other words sustainability.

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We should be proud.

With the vote, SIUC joined the ranks of more than 50 schools nationwide that have implemented similar fees. We are now on our way to becoming the most ecologically and economically sustainable campus in the state.

More generally, we are part of a movement, the Campus Climate Challenge, which unites 42 organizations and more than 608 local groups in 56 states and provinces who have worked to pass hundreds of local and regional climate policies. Just this past November, 6,000 students from across the nation descended on the Capitol for the largest global warming lobby day in history.

We are building a movement for a just and sustainable future and the level of our organization and success is unprecedented. No other institution or industry is moving as swiftly to bring climate solutions to the United States as youth and students. This is the issue of our generation.

So what happens now?

Now that the fee has been supported in a campus-wide referendum, it will be formally submitted to the chancellor’s office, on to the president’s office and will then be voted on by the Board of Trustees. The timeline has yet to be determined, but the fee will probably not be implemented until next year. But when it does get implemented, we have a few awesome ideas.

With the new student services building project on the horizon, we are looking into putting solar panels on top of it and ensuring that it is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.

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The university is conducting a feasibility study for wind turbines on campus. The results will be out next semester and when it does, we plan on maximizing our wind generation capacity via direct funding and leveraging grants. There are several buildings on campus that are not tied into the main heating and cooling system and could thus be retrofitted with a geothermal heat pump. We are also exploring occupancy sensors to reduce our energy consumption.

The possibilities are endless and you better put your thinking cap on because every member of the campus community will be able to apply for project funding.

The green fee is one component of a larger proposal known as Project Eco-Dawgs, which also calls for the formation of a sustainability council and the hiring of a sustainability coordinator.

The sustainability council will be composed of students, faculty and staff and will be chaired by a sustainability coordinator. They will be responsible for directing the use of the “green” fee in addition to crafting a climate action plan, a general vision for campus sustainability and sustainable curriculum development.

We have the staff and faculty lined up and the prospect for a sustainability coordinator looks good, but a few student seats are still open.

Apply to the sustainability council today!

Interested in forging a sustainable campus vision? If so, send an e-mail to Jon at [email protected] He can get you set up with an application. But get on it; the Sustainability Council will be holding its first meeting before the end of the semester so the application deadline is Monday.

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