These trash compacters, found all over campus, are projects of the first Green Fund at UTSA. Ethan Pham/The Paisano

UTSA may soon reinstitute student-mandated contributions toward a Green Fund. A proposal of the Tuition and Fees Committee would add a student services charge earmarked for projects, intended to make UTSA a more sustainable and environmentally friendly campus.

In 2009, the Texas House of Representative’s 49th district congressman Elliott Naishtat authored HB 3353, signed by the Texas Governor, limiting the period of time during which UTSA was authorized to charge a student fee called the “Green Fee” to support a UTSA sustainability initiative called the Green Fund. In 2015, the UTSA Green Fee was removed from student fees.

In response, the 2015 UTSA Student Government Association’s 39th General Assembly drafted proposal GA #102. The proposal would reinstate the $5 Green Fee through a vote by the student body to be passed up to the University President.

The 2015 resolution by Ileana Gonzalez and Andrew Hubbard was passed by majority vote in the General Assembly but fell victim to a fate similar to the 38th General Assembly’s Resolution #105, which asked that Texas legislature take action to remove the prohibition on the Green Fee.

Neither resolution passed by the general assembly was acted on by UTSA administration or Texas legislators. With no action taken on either of these SGA resolutions, HB 3353 has effectively put the UTSA Green Fund on hold.

“UTSA under Romo’s presidency took a ‘wait and see’ approach before bringing back the Green Fund, and obviously with his departure, nothing’s been able to be done until recently. A little over a month ago, Eighmy asked myself and another SGA member to pitch re-introducing the Green Fund through the Tuition and Fees Committee, and the process has gone from there,” Anthony Govea, co-author of the 42nd’s GA #103, said.

On Nov. 9, the SGA voted on a renewed effort to reinstate funding for UTSA sustainability efforts and the UTSA Green Fund. Resolution #103 by majority vote.

The resolution, authored by Anthony Govea, Jerry Sharp III and Joe Sanders, highlights some of the key successes of the UTSA Green Fund while it was still being funded between 2009-2015, including installing hydration stations around campus where students can refill water bottles instead of purchasing more plastic containers; converting the Sombrilla fountain to use recycled water; installing solar-powered trash and recycle compactors; solar panel installations; and a University garden.

Freshman SGA Senator Alyssa Perez said, “I think by next semester sustainability really will be an impact factor.”

Senior public health major Aisha Collins said she didn’t mind the increase in the student fee.

“I know tuition is high, but I feel like five dollars would be fine.”

Since the passage of HB 3353, universities have had to be creative to get funding for sustainability initiatives.

“One issue that has caused a lot of confusion is that in order to satisfy the HB 3353 legislation, universities can no longer collect the fee that pays into the Green Fund under the old Green Fee line item,” Govea said.

Resolution #103 passed in support of a five-dollar tuition increase under a new line item called the “Tuition Fee for Green Fund.” The new line item was approved by the UTSA Tuition and Fee’s Committee on Nov. 15 to replace the now empty Green Fee line item and is now in the hands President Taylor Eighmy for approval.

Before the Green Fund is reactivated, the funding still needs to be approved by the Office of the University Chancellor and the Board of Regents.

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