In addition to selecting six new ASUCD senators this week, students will also be asked to weigh in on a controversial new fee increase to establish a “Green Initiative Fund.“
If passed, the measure will require students to pay an extra $4 per quarter in fees to ASUCD in order to fund a program that would give students the money to initiate sustainability projects on campus.
Supporters of TGIF say it’s an innovative way to give students the power to improve the campus and make it more sustainable. Many TGIF backers say it will help make UC Davis a national leader in sustainability.
Though the environmental and educational goals behind this measure are laudable, there are two major flaws that spoil the program as a whole.
First is the fact that the $4 per quarter fee will be levied for the next 10 years. This is simply a bad policy.
TGIF has had mixed success at the other campuses where it has been instituted and no one can guarantee much student interest there will be at Davis. Perhaps the TGIF office will be overflowing with applications from students who want to install energy efficient windows or solar panels. It’s just as possible, however, that there will be very little interest from students. That could create a wasteful situation in which hundreds of thousands of student dollars are locked up in an unused bank account.
A better measure would have put the sunset for the fee at one or two years. With a shorter time frame, students would be better able to gauge the effectiveness of the program. If it turned out that there was little interest in the program, its impact would be limited and the campus could move on to bigger and better things. If it were a wild success, students would have no problem approving it again.
The other major problem with the current version of TGIF is the makeup of the grant-making committee.
Of the seven members of the committee, only two student members will be selected without any influence from the administration. Given that this is supposed to be a student-funded, student-driven program, this is a major shortcoming.
Additionally, Student Housing is guaranteed to have a student member on the committee. Since many of the projects are expected to directly benefit Student Housing facilities (such as the Domes) this is an inherent conflict of interest.
A better method of selecting the committee’s student members would be to have the ASUCD President nominate candidates who would then have to be approved by the ASUCD senate. In addition to being simpler, this would eliminate the conflict of interest.
TGIF is a good idea, but the setup as it is currently proposed is flawed, and it must be redesigned. For these reasons, we encourage a “no“ vote on TGIF.