Charging for CHANGE

Graphic by Alex Hilkey
Graphic by Alex Hilkey

Graphic by Alex Hilkey

A new environmentally friendly change in policy may come to Murray State next year to provide funding for green energy and sustainability projects around campus.

However, it’s students who would pay the bill, not administration.

The Murray Environmental Student Society is proposing the implementation of a “Green Fee,” a small increase to Murray State students’ tuition to fund both green energy changes to the infrastructure of the University as well as for research into green energy projects.

Jessica Brown, president of MESS, said their proposed Green Fee would raise students’ tuition $5 per student with the possibility of raising the fee to $8 after two years.

This fee would raise approximately $50,000 annually in support of green initiatives for Murray State.

“We could focus on all the little projects that need to be done around campus,” Brown said. “But instead of fighting two years to get solar panels installed, we can fight two years to get a Green Fee project done that’s going to pay for those solar panels and other projects.”

In 2009, MESS first raised the issue of having a Green Fee at Murray State supported by the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a coalition of environmentally conscious student organizations across Kentucky.

The next year, the group polled and collected signatures from 1,000 students in support of the initiative. MESS found 92 percent of those polled would be willing to raise tuition $1 for a Green Fee and 85 percent would pay $5 or more.

Brown said the Green Fee project quickly lost momentum as those in leadership positions in MESS graduated.

She said the group will re-poll students and collect signatures to present to President Bob Davies and the Board of Regents next fall.

Abbey Goss, sophomore from Dover, Tenn., said she wouldn’t mind paying the fee and $5 is a lot lower than she would expect to have to pay.

“I know that a big problem that is going to come up in the future is running out of natural resources,” she said. “I don’t mind paying a little bit to help out with that. I’d probably pay as high as $20.”

Alex Jackonski, sophomore from Cadiz, Ky., said he’d be willing to pay as much as $100 per year in the form of a Green Fee.

“When you’re paying $3,000 for tuition, $5 won’t make that big of a difference,” he said. “If the students are benefitting from it, part of their tuition should go towards it.”

Blake Parker, freshman from Lexington, Ky., said he also would be OK with having a Green Fee, but $5 should be enough to meet Murray State’s needs and the fee shouldn’t be raised any higher.

More than 100 universities across the U.S. have already implemented Green Fees for their students including the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

Brown said the club hopes to petition 25 percent of the student body for signatures in support of a Green Fee next semester and another 5 to 10 percent of students next fall, before presenting to the Board of Regents.

“It’s a goal that’s practical because if you look at a lot of the other universities who have done this, it didn’t take them much more than a year,” Brown said. “We’ve been trying to work on this since 2009, but we just haven’t been driven enough for long enough.

“2014 is the year we have regained momentum and 2015 will be the year the Green Fee will be passed.”

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer