College students often protest when administrators threaten to raise their fees.
But rising numbers of students seem willing to self-impose a “green” fee, to help the environment and purchase renewable energy. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education posts a list of universities that have such fees, which generally hover around $3 to $5 per semester but have increased to $40 per term in the case of Northland College in Wisconsin.
Portland State University is currently voting on whether to establish this kind of fee.
In some states such as Florida and Texas, students at public universities have been foiled in their efforts to impose green fees. That is because any fee increase must be approved by the state legislature. The back-and-forth process can easily take four years, according to Trevor Lovell of ReEnergize Texas, a youth coalition pushing for measures to address climate change — by which time the student body will have (hopefully) turned over.
A bill backed by ReEnergize Texas is working its way through the Texas state legislature that would allow university students to impose green fees more easily.
A similar bill in Florida just failed.
“The economic woes of our country coupled with an increase to tuition for state universities, made the members hesitant to enact any more new fees this session,” said Zachary Keith, who coordinated the green-fee effort in Florida, in an e-mail message.
He vowed to try again in the next legislative session, and noted that referendums at big Florida universities have shown solid support.
Texas is trying to avoid Florida’s legislative fate. Amanda Grosgebauer, who has chaired the environmental issues committee at Texas A&M, wrote a letter to the legislature stating that in March, 76 percent of students at her university had favored increased environmental services. “That is more student support for one issue than in the history of the University,” Ms. Grosgebauer wrote, in a letter provided by ReEnergize Texas.
“In the past our efforts have hit against a wall of political preferences — environmental issues are seen as a leftist, radical or an unreasonable, luxury,” Ms. Grosgebauer continued. “We are tired of hearing that excuse.”
Ummmm….can I get a “Suck it, Senate?!” [Student Senate that is].