UPUA has released a survey to gauge interest in a student sustainability fee that would help fund environmentally friendly practices on campus.
Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Rachel Franceschino (junior-political science and labor studies and employment relations) said the six-question survey was sent out to the UPUA listserv and has been shared with friends and student organizations on Twitter and Facebook.
The questions are geared to get student opinion on whether or not they would be willing to pay a yearly fee dedicated for sustainable projects.
The survey lists a number of fee options students would be willing to pay. The options range from $1 at the least to $12 at the most. The last option is for no fee at all.
The fee would be used to fund a variety of projects that would promote clean energy and environmentally friendly practices on campus, Spencer Malloy (senior- agroecology and philosophy), chair of the assembly, said. However, the University Park Undergraduate Association is still discussing the number of options available to them that the money could be used for.
“We really like the idea of a dedicated fund, but are talking to a lot of groups and entering into a lot of different options,” Malloy said.
Michael Kramer (junior-English and anthropology), off-campus representative who sits on the Governmental Affairs committee, said the money might go to projects like recycling and reducing resources on campus, while Malloy said the money could be useful to energy projects like funding solar panels. Franceschino thinks the money could be useful for research funds as well.
Franceschino said she does not want the fee to be pricey. She hopes that if a sustainability fee is implemented it would only be between $3-$5. However, Franceschino wants to know how students feel first about spending more money.
Franceschino said UPUA is waiting to get about 500-600 results before moving to the next step that would allow for greater student input. As of press time Monday, she said about 400 surveys have been completed.
“The goal is to get a UPUA referendum next semester or next year to get the opportunity for every student to vote,” Franceschino said.
If UPUA passes a referendum to implement a fee, the administration will become involved in the project, Malloy said.
“Administration will act as a sounding board, but right now we are trying to see the opinion of students,” he said.
Malloy said that if the fee passes, it will most likely have to pass through the Board of Trustees.
The idea of proposing a student sustainability fee has been brought up before, Malloy said. He said UPUA has been doing a lot of research into other universities that have a similar fee. University of Illinois introduced a $2 per semester student fee in 2003 to go toward a Cleaner Energy Technologies Fee and in 2010 approved a $14 fee for a Sustainable Campus Environment Fee, according to the Student Sustainability Committee of University of Illinois website.
Kramersaid UPUA is waiting to get an accurate representation of students’ attitudes before moving forward with a campus-wide vote for a fee. However, Kramer believes students will generally be supportive.
“[The fee] is small and useful and [sustainability is] not something many people will complain about,” Kramer said.
As of press time Monday, Franceschino said about 75 percent of the surveyors are interested in conducting a campus-wide vote on a sustainable energy fee, which is one of the six questions on the online survey.
Franceschino said the environment is increasingly important and as a result she hopes that students take interest in the fee. However, she is adamant that if students respond that this is not the right time or the right way to go about sustainability on campus, UPUA wants to know that.
Malloy agrees that a campus initiative toward a better environment can be very beneficial to Penn State and hopes students will use the survey to at least voice their opinion.
“I would like students at the very least to be interested in continuing the conversation,” Malloy said. “Student interest in sustainability is such a big issue and all we need is a small change.”