Student group begins campaign to create campus green fund

Date: 
Sat, 2017/10/07
By: 
Ethan Castro

Beginning with the Fall 2017 semester, a group of Illinois Tech students have begun the process of creating a campus green fund for the Illinois Institute of Technology. Calling themselves The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), this group’s mission statement explains how the initiative “would help fund student driven sustainability projects with the goal of creating a more sustainable, zero waste and energy efficient (or green) campus.” As the statement goes on to explain, “over 150 universities nationwide have a similar program to promote campus improvement.”

How TGIF imagines this fund working is through “a small semesterly donation from students” included as a part of university tuition. This pool would then be overseen by a panel of elected students, staff, and faculty members who distribute the funds towards “a variety of projects from installing solar arrays and occupancy sensors to building greenhouses or educational tiny homes on campus.” In the words of the group’s leader, Brandon Simons, his fund is envisioned as a way for students to “have a greater participation in creating a more sustainable, urban campus.”

Simons went on to explain his inspirations for starting this project come from a combination of internal and external factors. For example, through his involvement with Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), he was able to attend “conferences and saw other schools and student committees in charge of thousands of dollars for sustainability projects.” As is, not too many sources of funding exist for Illinois Tech students to begin projects like this for the betterment of the campus or the environment as a whole (at least, not of their own complete volition).

Simons went on to explain the economic benefits of encouraging green projects on campus, beyond its obvious environmental externalities. He views such projects as self-financing in the long run, as savings in water and power lead to quick payback periods, as well as the potential for recycling and even agricultural capabilities that can result from student projects.

Moving forward, TGIF will begin an intensive marketing campaign to gather signatures for its online petition. In order to be considered by university administration, TGIF must pass a referendum vote that will be included in next spring semester’s Student Government Association executive board elections. In the meantime, the members of TGIF will begin advertising on social media, through stickers, and in physical locations (including the MTCC Bridge, the Galvin Library, and in classrooms). The organization’s online petition can be found at tinyurl.com/tgif-iit.