North Texas Daily

Students unaware but supportive of environmental service fee

Students unaware but supportive of environmental service fee

April 28
02:51 2016

Linda Kessler | Copy Editor


Matt Payne | Features Editor


At the start of each semester, students pay an environmental service fee of $5 toward the We Mean Green Fund Committee, a student-led group that utilizes the money to fund their projects.

While most students support the initiative, many do not know it exists. In Fiscal Year 15, according to UNT’s budget, the estimated income from this fee was $155,859. The report also states expected expenditures for the funds, which sets aside $56,131 for salaries and $99,728 for maintenance and operation expenses.

The WMGFC is charged with conducting events and initiatives that increase the action and awareness of the student body and faculty in efforts to make UNT a more eco-friendly university. The committee works with other groups on campus, including the Student Government Association, Graduate Student Council and the Denton Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee.

The committee consists of 10 students, two of which are appointed by SGA, one by GSC and three faculty members. To be considered for the committee, students and faculty complete an open application and are then interviewed by sitting members of the WMGFC.

“This new union, the first time I saw it I was really proud of it because it looks great,” photography sophomore John Kuzmick said. “But also because of [the LEED certification].”

Kuzmick supports the fee and thinks it’s important to campus environment. He said he hopes the money from this fund goes toward the LEED certifications of newly constructed buildings on campus and keeps the university environmentally conscious.

“Our goal is not to try and let a wildflower grow in a fully-grown garden,” sustainability coordinator Gary Cocke said. “We want environmental awareness and activism to be nurtured and have a lasting impact.”

SGA member Emma Sobocinski said she was not aware of the WMGFC, which is made up of students and faculty who propose ideas for the spending of the funds raised by the fee. Though she is not interested in being directly involved with the group, she said the door is open for collaboration.

“We could partner with them and get more support by working with them,” she said. “So I feel like I could be a part of it by way of SGA.”

With the money collected from each student attending classes, Cocke said his goals in directing the WMGFC are to propel student-centric ideas the committee produces and provide an accomplishment members can feature on their résumé. He added that the committee is not unlike a Kickstarter for ideas for students to produce and maintain ownership of.

A new addition, produced by committee member Robert Miller, is a bike theft prevention initiative focused on simultaneously decreasing crime and encouraging UNT students to feel comfortable replacing their vehicle commute with a bike ride.

The initiative, which was approved for funding by the Division of Student Affairs in fall 2015, will offer two courses intended to teach bike-safety habits, increase UNT police department presence in the protection of bikes and the distribution of free U-locks to cyclists on campus.

Although political science senior Raameen Shakeeb, a commuter student at UNT for the past four years, thinks the committee exists for the “just” cause of improving UNT’s eco-friendliness, he believes the university should consider other means of improving its actions and decreasing its environmental footprint.

“It’s an important cause to encourage students to be more active and environmentally cognizant of their actions,” Shakeeb said. “But if we’re talking about a fee out of the blue, well, that’s a whole different discussion.”

Featured Image: A student bikes through campus near the new lawn by the Union. Matt Payne | Features Editor

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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