USF is working to become one of the most sustainable schools in the country through an initiative lead by university president, Judy Genshaft, and supported by USF students. Genshaft signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to lower USF’s greenhouse gas emissions and eventually neutralize them all together.
Christian Wells, director of the Office of Sustainability, said his office was determined to following through on this commitment by creating programs and initiatives to make USF a greener campus. This led to the creation of the Student Green Energy Fund.
“We wanted to make good on this,” Wells said, “We know it’s what the students want.” The Office of Sustainability proposed an increase in tuition for the Student Green Energy Fund in March 2011. The increase added was $1.00 per credit hour. This fund proposal was included in a Student Government election in 2010 and an overwhelming majority of students voted in support of this fee. Over 69 percent of USF Tampa and 77 percent of USF St. Pete students voted in favor of the fee.
“We are being led by the students,” Wells said, “We are researching what they want and using the funds to support their ideas.”
The Office of Sustainability received 12 proposals from students on how to use the funds and they are now sorting through them so decide which projects to take on. There is not a specific number of projects that will get funded and each project will get a maximum of $100,000.
“The majority of students have told us that they want to see changes in food,” Wells said, “They want farmer’s markets and a community garden here on campus. Now the challenge is finding where to put them.”
Going green is a new trend on the USF campus. The College Sustainability Report Card is an interactive website that rates colleges and universities on how sustainable they are. USF was rated a D+ in 2008 and has risen to a B+ in 2011. The Office of Sustainability will also release a report at the end of the school year showing how much impactful the sustainability efforts were for the 2011-12 school year.
Wells attributes a lot of the success in USF going green to the dean of Housing and Residential Education, Ana Hernandez.
“She has really pushed for a green campus, especially in the residential areas.” Wells said. Hernandez has implemented a recycling program in all of the residence halls, which is something students have been really advocating for in recent years.
“It’s nice to see changes being made,” says sophomore Xavier Orie, “ I grew up recycling so it was hard to throw things away when I knew they should be recycled,”
Water conservation is another initiative being pushed by Housing and Residential Education. Tampa donated water efficient showerheads to USF to use in the residence halls. This semester, a comparison study is being done in Maple Hall, which consists of two identical buildings. The new showerheads were placed in one, with the other building using the current heads, and each month a report is given on how much water is saved. The September report showed 7,000 fewer gallons of water used in the building with the new showerheads.
“We were expecting a lot of complaints about them but we haven’t received one,” said Wells. He is hoping that the rest of the semester reports have similar data and that every showerhead on campus can be replaced over winter break.
“I haven’t noticed a difference at all. I actually like knowing that it is a more efficient showerhead and that I’m saving water,” junior Sophia Johnson said. Maple Hall is home to Johnson, as well as the Green Living Learning Community.
Sarah Shehorn, PINK campus rep for USF, introduces the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center on Tuesday night. More than 40 young women showed up to watch on a big screen and try to win free PINK gear through a raffle.
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