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UMKC Students Rally for Sustainability: The Push for a Green Fee Referendum

A student-led initiative seeks to reshape campus funding priorities towards environmental sustainability.
Amina Shaw
UMKC School of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Tamara Falicov helps create a community garden with ESC.

  The UMKC Environmental Student Council (ESC) is pushing to reinstate funding for campus sustainability efforts on the March Student Government Association ballot.

  The proposed referendum would direct a percentage, which has not yet been decided, of the Student One Fee to a new sustainability fee that doesn’t currently exist.

 The Student One Fee is an all-encompassing fee included in tuition that covers the cost of various parts of student life. 

  This referendum provides students the opportunity to shift how environmental responsibilities are prioritized and managed on campus. The addition of the sustainability fee would not increase the overall amount students pay, but reallocate the funds to accommodate for the new initiatives. 

  Pending approval of a majority referendum vote by students on the SGA ballot, funds would be used to hire a full-time sustainability coordinator and staff to support recycling, composting and environmentally conscious groundskeeping efforts on campus. If students vote to pass the proposal, then steps are taken to implement the change, which are still being determined. 

  “A lack of funding in the sustainability department and a consequential lack of student and faculty involvement has caused UMKC to fall short in recent years,” medical student and author of the referendum Simrin Phatak said. “We aim to bring UMKC back up to par.”

  Historically, UMKC was credited for its prioritization of sustainability on campus. In addition to being a registered member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and receiving a Silver Rating, UMKC was also named “Top 50 Leader in the Sierra Club Cool Schools” in 2012. 

  In the same year, UMKC was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its food waste initiative. In fiscal year 2016, UMKC generated $1.4 million in energy savings resulting from a long list of ongoing sustainability efforts in the eight years previous.

  In 2017, UMKC held an 82% recycling rate during RecycleMania receiving a third-place ranking beating out 190 competing colleges and universities.

  Junior environmental studies Student Mikayla Long believes funding sustainability initiatives should be one of the top goals for any campus. 

  “The current issues within our environment, such as the loss of native species within Missouri as a whole, and larger scale issues such as climate change are great motives to push for a more sustainable campus,” Long said.

Students received a link to the SGA ballot in their email, and voting is open until March 21 at 11:59 p.m.

  For more information and updates students can join ESC on RooGroups or follow their Instagram.

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