Two years after its implementation, the Green Fund shifts focus to funding short-term sustainability efforts on Mississippi State University’s campus, most recently with the installment of water bottle filling stations in the Colvard Student Union.
The Green Fund gives students the option to contribute an extra $5 to their tuition each semester on their myState banner tab to support sustainable initiatives on MSU’s campus.
Grant Beatty, Students for a Sustainable Campus president, said SSC believes when the Green Fund was introduced, the initiative was successful.
“Well, the Green Fund grew very quickly after its implementation, directly because of the promotion efforts of its founders — former members of SSC,” Beatty said. “They definitely created a hype when the Green Fund got its feet on the ground.”
However, Beatty said Green Fund money recently plateaued because SSC gained new members, which caused its efforts and priorities to shift.
“We decided it was important to do short-term projects with the funds already raised in order to give the student body tangible examples of what the Green Fund can be used for,” he said. “Our job is to get students interested and willing to opt-in, knowing that their $5 is going towards something real.”
An aim at tangibility, SSC’s focus on short-term projects brought about the creation of water bottle filling stations on current water fountains in the Colvard Student Union this past week.
Beatty said the filling stations were paid for with the Green Fund and are intended to reduce plastic waste.
Brett Harris, Student Association president, said SA works with SSC, and an SA senator presented the filling station idea and worked to get it passed through SA Senate.
Harris said he hopes to see more filling stations implemented across campus in the future as well as a decrease in waste on campus.
“I believe it will hopefully reduce the amount of styrofoam cups and water bottles, and we’ll see those all over campus in a few years,” he said.
An effort to coat the roofs of campus buildings with elastomeric white paint may also be in the works, Beatty said, which would lower the amount of heat absorbed by buildings.
He said this rooftop coating would reflect up to 60 percent more light than traditional roofing and will reduce cooling costs and energy consumption at the same time.
Sustainability particularly concerns the MSU community, Harris said, exemplified by the university’s recent recognition by the Mississippi Recycling Coalition as Educational Institution Recycler of the Year and recognition as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
“It’s important to stay ahead of the curve and find ways to better the university and give back, and promoting sustainability is one of those ways,” he said.
Meg Johnson, former co-director of the SA Environmental Affairs Committee, said both the Environmental Affairs Committee and SSC receive money from the SA. Johnson said SSC applies for SA funds, and the SA appropriates money to them.
Often times money for initiatives comes from various MSU offices, a collaboration of financial support Johnson said comes when well-thought-out project ideas that can be proved to be necessary arise.
Beatty said he believes, ultimately, the measure of the Green Fund’s effectiveness will be the program’s effect on the MSU community’s environmental awareness.
“To me, success of the Green Fund is not simply defined by an end monetary goal, but rather what it can do to make MSU a more energy and environmentally-conscious university,” he said. “This isn’t some abstract philosophy. It’s practical, and it’s personal. The Green Fund can do things to bring basic environmental concern to the forefront of students’ minds.”