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UW-Eau Claire Students to Vote on Fee Increase
to Support Environmental Sustainability Fund

RELEASED: Nov. 17, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will vote on a referendum Thursday, Nov. 20, to increase student fees by $10 per semester to help support environmental sustainability efforts on campus.

The Student Senate-initiated referendum question on the fee increase will be sent in an e-mail message to all UW-Eau Claire students. Students may cast their yes or no votes in a Web survey linked from the e-mail message. Students can submit their votes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 20.

Dollars generated from the increased fees would go into an environmental sustainability reserve, which would be controlled by a committee made up mostly of students, according to a Student Senate bill authorizing the referendum. The funds would support environmental causes on campus through financial support for faculty-student projects, courses or capstone classes, and student organization environmental projects, the bill states.

In a spring 2008 Student Senate survey, 67 percent of the respondents said becoming a greener campus was among the top five things the Student Senate should work to accomplish. Eighty-three percent of the student survey respondents said environmental issues were important or very important to them.

Student governments at several UW System campuses have established sustainability funds to financially support environmental efforts on campus by raising student fees, according to the Student Senate bill.

A student-funded environmental sustainability reserve would be the latest in a series of UW-Eau Claire initiatives that address environmental concerns on campus. Examples of other initiatives and actions include:

  • Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007 to reduce or offset the campus's overall input of carbon dioxide until carbon neutrality is achieved, and integrate sustainability education into campus curriculums.
  • UW-Eau Claire's new strategic plan, the Centennial Plan, has identified seven university priorities, one of which is to better steward physical resources.
  • The chancellor created the Climate Commitment Advisory Team to identify ways to expand participation in sustainability efforts.
  • A carbon inventory was prepared and shared with the campus community. The report provided an inventory of current carbon emissions as well as recommendations for reducing those emissions.
  • The chancellor appointed Dr. Kate Hale to be UW-Eau Claire's first Campus Sustainability Fellow to coordinate and support sustainability efforts already operating on campus and to assist in the development of new efforts.
  • The UW-Eau Claire Foundation created the Campus Sustainability Initiatives Fund to help advance the university's green efforts and to seek funding to support the sustainability efforts being developed on campus.

For more information about the Nov. 20 student referendum, contact Student Senate President Tim Lauer at lauertd@uwec.edu or 715-836-4048, or Michael Umhoefer, author of the Senate's bill calling for the referendum, at umhoefmb@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB

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