Sustainability referendum to fund MU resource education team

Friday, February 20, 2009 | 5:34 p.m. CST; updated 4:52 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 9, 2009

In February, MU students approved a $1 sustainability student fee. Because of other cuts, the total student activity fee will decrease by 34 cents. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the effects of the student fee.

COLUMBIA — MU students officially passed a sustainability referendum that will raise student fees by $1 next fiscal year. *Because of other cuts, the total student activity fee will decrease by 34 cents.*

Student groups will use the fee to educate peers about the importance of resource management.

“On our campus, a lot of people don’t know what sustainability is,” said Patrick Margherio, president of the group Sustain Mizzou.

He defines sustainability as waste management and using resources like energy, water, electricity and food efficiently in order to provide for future generations.

The fee will allow MU to hire two graduate students with pay ranging from $12,000 to $15,000 per year to do research, find grants and help with sustainability efforts on campus. Six undergraduates, called “SustainaReps,” will be hired for $1,000 per semester to educate and work with students to make MU more sustainable. Students must submit an application to be considered for the job.

Margherio said the next step will be for the university and members of Sustain Mizzou to meet and decide where the student staff members will be placed, their job descriptions and the general hierarchy of authority in the sustainability office.

Also, he hoped the university would eventually be able to provide a sustainability coordinator, a staff person who would help with bigger sustainability campaigns, work with the student staff and help educate faculty and staff.

According to the MSA Senate Web site, similar student fees have been implemented at the University of Illinois at Urbana — Champaign, University of Colorado — Denver, University of Colorado — Boulder, University of Oregon and Harvard University.

Margherio said the sustainability reforms will allow students to be more environmentally friendly “without too much hassle.”

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Patrick Margherio February 23, 2009 | 12:14 a.m.

One quick note, there will be no increase in fees next year. The Sustainability Fee will cost $1 per student per semester, but student fees will decrease by 34 cents due to an overall reduction in fees next year.

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