Following last semester’s campaign infraction, Green Action Fund outreach coordinator Keenan Powell and his coworkers have been working to ensure GAF has a future at UCCS.
The Green Action Fund is a fee that students pay as part of their tuition that helps fund sustainability projects on campus. Some notable projects that GAF has funded include the water bottle filling stations and the solar panel powered charging tables.
During SGA elections last semester, GAF was campaigning to make the student-paid Green Action Fee of $5.68 permanent as opposed to the previous “sunset vote,” where it had to be revoted on every five years to continue.
While campaigning, GAF violated the student election and campaign policy and was disqualified from the ballot. GAF tried to appeal the decision, but it was denied, eliminating the Green Action fee from tuition for the current year. GAF can apply to reinstate their fee on next year’s ballot.
Since the fee was removed from tuition for the year, GAF is depending on its reserves to stay afloat. After cleaning up a few old projects, the committee has found their funds are stable for now.
“Our reserves are kind of growing as we’re closing on some of these projects that are inactive or haven’t gotten back to us,” Powell said. “With that said, if we don’t get that funding, those reserves are going to run out eventually.”
Powell said GAF is making many changes this year to prepare for the next election. “We’re trying to reprioritize what we’re doing … we’re trying to get our committee in order, get our membership full,” Powell said. “Right now, our priority is on continuous funding for next year.”
While Powell is disappointed at how the election turned out last year, he said there is hope for GAF in future elections. “The election policy can now be changed, and I’m very happy it’s going to have a lot more eyes on it,” he said.
Powell said the biggest problem with the policy was its ambiguity. The lack of clear guidelines made it more open to interpretation, which led to GAF asking many questions they couldn’t get the answers to.
According to Powell, the SGA Rules and Organizations Committee is working to expand the election policy to make it clearer and provide better guidance.
The previous policy was seven pages compared to CU Boulder’s policy that is over 20. The current revamped election policy is now up to 21 pages.
Powell has since stepped down as Senator of Sustainability, meaning he is no longer a part of the Rules and Organization Committee, but he still attends meetings in public to provide feedback.
GAF’s priority is to prepare for the election and familiarize itself with the new election policy. Powell said GAF plans to designate a select group of people who will campaign and ensure they are familiar with campaign policy to make sure nothing like last semester happens again.
Powell also mentioned that GAF plans to increase the fee to a higher amount, but they do not have a concrete number just yet.
Powell is unhappy with the current state of sustainability on campus, noting the Office of Sustainability and GAF have been struggling to get support from upper administration. He also mentioned the office has been understaffed due to budget cuts.
Outside of administrative complications, Powell believes campus sustainability is not where it should be. He wants to look at many different aspects of sustainability, including UCCS’ transportation and energy systems, and find ways to improve them.
“We are very far behind when you look at other campuses, even comparable campuses like Pikes Peak [State College],” Powell said. “We’re lagging behind pretty substantially … we could very easily be doing stuff that other large institutions are doing.”
If the fee gets reinstated, Powell said GAF has big plans for the future. He looks at other campuses like CSU as a model for what sustainability at UCCS could be.
Powell also encouraged students who have sustainability-related project ideas to apply for GAF’s grant.
“We have big aspirations, we have a vision for what campus could look like and we’re really excited about it,” Powell said. “What we really want to tap into is projects that students have. We want to increase our outreach, and we want a bunch of students to come apply for our grant.”
Students interested in joining GAF can learn how to apply on their website.
Photo from unsplash.com.