The Senate Higher Education Committee in Florida may approve a bill that will allow public universities in the state to charge green fees.
Green fees are funds that students vote for and then decide how they will be spent on projects that promote environmental sustainability. Examples include placing solar panels on buildings, recycling bins for campus or paying for motion sensors so lights .
“I am strongly committed to helping build energy efficiency here at Florida A&M University,” said Calvin Hayes, Student Government Association vice president-elect. “A fee for students will be a great investment, however we must also keep in mind that students must be able to tangibly benefit from the fee.”
The student bodies at seven of Florida’s 11 public universities, like the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida, have already voted to implement a green fee and have begun their preparations to put the initiative into practice.
“Most of the student body is already on board,” said Yesenia Garcia, a sophomore student at UCF. “Many seminars are being held to answer questions about the green fees. It’s not a lot of money, and it’s doing more to make our campus innovative.”
Local state senators said they are concerned because they do not know how students will feel about another fee particularly after the recent 15 percent tuition hike passed by the Legislature March 24.
Green fees at other universities are ranging from $.50 to $5 per credit hour. This could amount to $150 a year for a full-time student.
Hayes said he has hope in the FAMU student body and said as long as the money will be used for an appropriate cause, the university can get the students to vote for the fees.
“In order to gauge student opinion, there can be surveys administered, a student government resolution, a ballot referendum and a green fee education seminar,” Hayes said.
Jomar Floyd, a senior health care student from Orlando, said he is doing what he can in order to educate others about green fees.
“The fees are a great cause,” Floyd said. “They will provide the university with alternate resources and will be beneficial to the student body in the long run.”
If the fees are to be implemented at FAMU, Floyd said it would be a good idea for campus organizations with a green focus to work together to decide how the funds should be used.
Other students said they are not happy with the fees. Lauren Watkins, a senior business administration student from Chicago, does not agree with the thought of green fees.
“I am an out-of-state student and the fees that I currently pay are already ridiculous,” Watkins said. “Yes, I do care about my university, but I will not be able to afford any additional fee.”
Although Watkins does not agree with the fees, if the vote is passed she said she would like to see more recycle bins around campus and used books in the bookstore.
While the vote has not yet reached FAMU, Hayes has made preparations for ways the funds should be distributed.
“We would make sure all entities on campus are involved,” Hayes said. “Relationships with the local city of Tallahassee and plant operations will also serve as a catalyst. It is our hope that those greener days will come.”