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Students should remember original purpose of 40K

By Thresher Editorial Board     11/5/14 5:51am

The Student Association is soliciting suggestions for how to spend $40,000 of leftover sums from the Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy Technology’s blanket tax, which was approved in 2010 and dissolved in 2013 (see p.1).

While the SA said it will consider all proposals, including those not explicitly concerned with sustainability or environmental issues, the Thresher believes students should focus their proposals on on-campus sustainability efforts. Though $40,000 can be used in many exciting and eccentric ways, students have an obligation to see that it is spent on sustainability initiatives.

Rice students voted in 2010 to allocate $9 in blanket tax money to RESET, and the selected proposal should honor that intent. Though RESET was not reapproved three years later, it was due to insufficient voter turnout, not lack of student sentiment.

Students would not only honor the intent of those who voted for the blanket tax in the first place by creating proposals geared toward sustainability, but they would also take a crucial step in making Rice more environmentally conscious. Many on-campus sustainability efforts could be introduced or expanded, and $40,000 can go a long way toward that goal.

For instance, Rice’s recycling system can be improved. Money could be spent on installing more outdoor recycling bins — all outdoor trash cans should be accompanied by recycling bins, and students should not have to go out of their way to recycle. Further, money could go toward better educating Rice students on what can and cannot be recycled. Outreach efforts could entail posting signage by all recycling bins and trash cans with pictures of what should be recycled and what should be trashed.

Additionally, many older buildings on campus, such as Sewall Hall and Herzstein Hall, could be retrofitted with more sustainable hardware, such as low-flush toilets and LED lighting.

Recycling and retrofitting older buildings are low-hanging fruits in the fight to make Rice more sustainable, but students should also think big. Perhaps $40,000 could fund a currently unforeseen sustainable venture, and it should be used to create a fund similar to that which RESET originally proposed.

While crafting creative proposals for spending the SA’s $40,000 can be fun and exciting, we should make sure they work toward making Rice a more sustainable campus. To do otherwise would show that Rice students do not respect prior student decisions and are complacent with the current level of sustainability on Rice’s campus.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.

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