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Davis, California

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Green Initiative Fund enters final attempt this ASUCD election season

If TGIF is not passed, they will be forced to dissolve


By MADISON PETERS — campus@theaggie.org


The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) is up for renewal on the Spring Election ballot for the fourth and final time. If they do not succeed this election cycle, all of TGIF’s funds will be exhausted, and they will be forced to dissolve if they cannot secure an alternate source of funding, according to the TGIF Renewal Referendum.

TGIF’s mission statement states that they strive to promote sustainable development and innovation by providing the necessary funds to various sustainability projects run by the UC Davis community.

Annie Kanjamala, TGIF committee member and environmental science and management major, described how the program works.

“TGIF is a sustainability grant program, so if [undergraduate] students had any sustainable events, projects or research they want to do, they could come to us and we can grant them up to $20k for their project,” Kanjamala said. “It is [about] sustainability in the broad sense. It [relates] to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, so [we fund projects] about environmental sustainability but also food security, biodiversity and education for all.”

In addition to being a resource for undergraduate students, TGIF grants are also open to faculty, staff and graduate students, so long as the project directly involves and benefits undergraduate students.

Since 2016, TGIF has awarded over $850,000 to more than 100 prominent projects at UC Davis including the Sheep Mowers, Arboretum Waterway, Texas Trees, Freedges and Aggie House, according to the TGIF project database.

The TGIF Renewal Referendum states that in order for the program to be reinstated, it needs 20% student voter participation and a 60% approval rating. In a recent presentation that TGIF members gave to campus leadership, it was revealed that in all three previous attempts to pass TGIF, the popular vote surpassed 60%, but has failed to achieve the 20% voter participation.

The student voting participation rate has been as low as 5.8% in past years and is the main hurdle to TGIF being passed, according to Carla Fresquez, interim director of Sustainability and TGIF grant program manager.

Fresquez delved into the disparity surrounding the 20% student voter participation requirement by revealing that all other non-student fee-based items on the election ballot, such as ASUCD student government elections, don’t adhere to this minimum and can have as low as 5 voters to be passed.

Fresquez spoke on the struggles of student voting and the need for more support from campus leadership in getting the voting rates up.

“When you are working in a system that does not share the same goals as you, it’s really hard to get things done,” Fresquez said. “We’ve gotten so much support from ASUCD and others. They love TGIF [and] it’s really hard to find any faults with this program, but we can’t get voter participation rates increased without significant campus support.”

TGIF has been successfully passed at all of the UC campuses except UC Davis, according to Daphne Crother, TGIF committee member and political science major. Additionally, Crother revealed that UC Davis has the lowest student body voter participation rate out of all of the UCs. 

If passed, there will be a $3.50 student quarterly fee starting fall 2024 which is established by a W16 student referendum, according to the TGIF financial analysis. Due to an increasing demand for sustainability research funding, this fee will be increased by 50 cents per year, for 10 years after it is passed with a 25% return for student aid.

If TGIF passes, Fresquez says that possible future plans include collaborating with the Undergraduate Research Center and the Office of Research to open more opportunities for grant receivers, although none of these ideas have been finalized or discussed in detail.

Students will be able to cast their votes on the ASUCD elections website from the morning of April 22 to the evening of April 26. 

Caspar Schulte, TGIF committee member and managerial economics and international relations double major, commented on the overall impact that TGIF has within the UC Davis community.

“What’s important to note about TGIF’s importance is that it really promotes student development,” Schulte said. “UC Davis prides itself on its students being able to build their resumes and their best future selves, and TGIF gives the opportunity for students to directly engage in sustainability and research.”

Written by: Madison Peters — campus@theaggie.org


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