The UA Green Fund Committee is looking for ideas with educational components and strong environmental and financial savings.
The student-led committee set up shop last semester after the Arizona Board of Regents approved a $24 tuition allocation for the Green Fund in March. Proposals are being accepted now, and the group has $400,000 to dish out to the projects they choose.
An interesting aspect of the Green Fund not emphasized in this article is how different it is from other designated dollars from students: this is not a fee, but a “tuition allocation.” This marks the first time in recent memory the Regents have publicly stated how a specific portion of each student’s tuition will be used. This is significant because the UA administration has never released anything close to an itemized list of how tuition is used — the Green Fund may be an important, if infinitesimally small, movement in the direction of knowing for what tuition is used and, when tuition increases, granting students a numeric justification as to why. The Green Fund, which started out as a fee proposal called the SAGE fund, is also different in that a student board will control (to a degree; see below) this leafmarked portion of tuition.
In related concerns, Huber states that the Green Fund has $400,000 to give out, yet the “tuition allocation” is for $24 from every student. $24 x 38,000 students = $912,000. Where is the rest of this allocated tuition money?
How this regular-grade fee fishing evolved into administrative-grade champion marlin was characteristically well-documented by my colleague last year: the then-SAGE Fund slithered its way into existence much in the same way as the sinister Student Services Fee. Manipulative, unrepresentative surveys allow more and more money to be taken from students without even cursory attempts at a vote:
It’s duplicitous when a university administrative unit uses these biased, self-conducted surveys to manufacture support for its own payroll. It’s downright offensive when a group of students uses this sort of ramjob to rob their peers “for their own good.” Say what you will about PIRG (and we have), but at least they have the sense of decency to go though normal, established, democratic procedures. The rhetoric of “student control” for an enacted fee obscures the fact that student control over whether or not that fee gets enacted has been entirely tossed aside.
This act of fee-mongering is complicated by the cooperation of the UA administration, the reason for which Huber explained as, “We felt that we had to go through the administration to get the level of institutional buy-in required to ensure the funds success and maximize each student’s dollar…There was nothing to lose going the student route in terms of getting the fee passed, especially since all of our data and observations indicate that students are overwhelmingly in favor of supporting sustainability. Student Affairs conducted a survey, ASUA conducted surveys, and NAU passed theirs with a 70% student support rate (or close to)…Not to mention other universities around the nation.” Except that assumption probably isn’t true, and unlike NAU, UA students didn’t have the opportunity to vote on it. It hardly matters now, as the Regents uncharacteristically selected to incorporate SAGE’s solicitation of student money into the opaque aggregate of the tuition figure.
ASUA Senator Chad Travis, who is not identified by the Wildcat as such, is quoted talking about the Fund:
Chad Travis, pre-business sophomore and Green Fund Committee vice-chair, said projects would begin to receive funding as soon as the committee reads through all the proposals that have been submitted.
The Green Fund Committee has discussed holding public meetings as an option to keep students informed about their projects, according to Travis.
“We want to be as transparent as possible because we’re held accountable to the entire student body, and we’re making decisions for the students,” Travis said.
This is likely to be much like the Student Services Fee Advisory Board, which made transparency something of an issue. Like the SSFAB, the bylaws of the Green Fund governing documents are sure to include a clause much like this one [pdf]: