March 11, 2013
Students have an opportunity March 11-15 to vote for candidates in the Student Government Association election. However, students will not be given a chance to vote for the renewal of the Green Action Fund until April.
The Green Action Fund bill was introduced in November 2012. It was tabled until the spring semester began, when it was approved by the House of Representatives and sent to SGA President Stephen Collier.
“Steve refused to sign it,” said Drew Johnson, chair of the GAF. “It was blocked from going in the general election.” Johnson explained Collier didn’t sign the bill because he did not like the organizational structure of the GAF.
The GAF is structured with a Green Action Committee, which is composed of students from sustainability-related clubs or organizations. The committee also requires a faculty and a staff member.
“[They] help to give insight into how we can make these changes happen. How can we fund sustainability projects? How can we integrate [projects] on campus?” said Andrea Hassler, projects coordinator for the GAF.
Concerns came from the fact that faculty and staff would have a vote. “There was concern of whether it’s appropriate for them to be voting because of student fees,” Hassler said.
“There are other student fees that don’t have nearly as much student representation as this fee does. There’s nothing wrong with the … faculty and staff, it’s just, is that the best?”
The SGA and GAF met on Feb. 26 to discuss details of the vote. Collier explained via email that “both SGA Vice President April Coffin and myself have planned to work with the Green Action Fund members to address concerns both SGA members and I have had regarding GAF’s structure. I believe the meeting was extremely productive.”
The groups came to terms in regards to supporting the Green Action Fund fee, which adds $5 to each student’s bill.
Areas of concern included liability of GAF-funded projects, voting rights of faculty and staff and accountability of GAF membership to the student body.
Both the SGA and GAF signed a “Statement of Understanding” indicating both parties’ willingness to resolve concerns and produce solutions.
“The meeting was meant as a first step toward re-establishing the partnership both organizations have, as well as providing a way forward on addressing concerns and communicating them back to the respective organizations,” Collier said.
One initiative both groups are taking is the special election to be held in April specifically for the GAF. Some argue that a separate vote from the general election has its downside.
“Historically at UCCS, special elections have significantly lowered voter turnout,” Johnson said. “We have a burden, or a responsibility, to get as many students aware of this as possible so that we have a representative vote.”
“At this point, Steve’s got an invested interest in making sure the Green Action Fund is successful,” Johnson said. The election is scheduled to be held between April 22 and 26.