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40k should be spent on sustainability, as intended

By Michael Donatti     11/12/14 4:32am

The $40,000 remaining from RESET should continue funding student-driven environmental projects. These funds originated from a 2010 SA bill, which allocated a $9 per student blanket tax “to combat rising energy costs and combat climate change.” That same year, students passed a 100-year sustainability plan, expressing a desire to make Rice more sustainable. Because of a sunset clause, the RESET blanket tax was voted on twice more, but ambiguous wording and the lack of a quorum caused it to fail.

Regardless of the dissolution of RESET, these funds were raised by students who intended them for environmental projects. By spending them on anything else, we disrespect the will of the student body that approved the tax, and we cheat those students who gave the money.

The Rice Environmental Society advocates for the growing number of students desiring to improve campus sustainability. Surveys by the SA Environmental Committee demonstrated that students feel Rice has not done enough to better campus sustainability and showed student desire to improve Rice’s environmental infrastructure. RES and its members respond to this drive towards sustainability by proposing to use the $40,000 to support environmental projects. Doing so would promote sustainability on campus and utilize the funds in the way the students who gave the money intended.

As per the constitution of RES, students could apply anytime to access the fund under RES. The projects must be environmentally focused, usually reducing water usage, energy usage or waste. A panel of RES students, faculty and perhaps an SA representative could review applications and approve funding based on affordability, sustainability, practicality and positive impact. This format will help the funds be readily used for viable projects. It also opens up the money for all students and for several years to come.

Several projects have already benefitted from environmental funding at Rice, funding that is dwindling. Using the $40,000 for their original purpose will contribute to Rice’s sustainability, lead to cost savings in the future and empower students to initiate projects across campus. It will also make sustainability at Rice more visible, increasing student morale about Rice’s efforts on the issue.

Michael Donatti, Duncan College junior

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