Associated Students of Madison representatives traveled to UW-Parkside to attend the UW System Student Representatives meeting.
Though all energy expenditures for UW System institutions are controlled by the Wisconsin Department of Administration, a new campaign seeks to alter this policy and allow schools to be 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
At a UW System Student Representatives meeting Saturday, representatives from UW-Stout proposed legislation seeking support from the body for the Seize The Grid campaign.
The UW-Stout representatives said they hoped to purchase green energy but were told that they could not use segregated fees to purchase energy generated outside of the University.
“The city of River Falls just invested in millions in a solar garden, so why would we not invest in the solar garden,” said a representative from UW-River Falls. “Why would we not invest in that? I agree that it’s just another stupid regulation.”
However, some raised concerns that chancellors would be reluctant to allow students to make decisions in energy purchasing, even for projects and buildings funded with segregated fees.
Representatives from UW-Madison who attended the meeting said they were concerned about cost and responsibility being pushed on to students. Associated Students of Madison Secretary Deena Whitwam said sustainability should be a responsibility and expectation of administration.
“We have a $50,000 line item in segregated fees that is supposed to be dedicated to green energy. But we ran into so many problems with it that we could not spend the money,” Whitwam said . “This year the Office of Sustainability has taken over that entire line item, none of it is funded by segregated fees now and the university is completely paying for those same projects and more.”
UW-Stout representatives said they had a “green fee” for sustainability projects and events. This campaign’s success, they explained, would not raise fees for students but would ease regulations allowing them the fund to be used for its intent.
Ultimately, the body voted to encourage the DOA to revise its policy for UW System energy purchasing so individual campuses can benefit from energy savings.
However, the representatives from Madison were one of six campuses to vote against the proposal, and maintained it would be better to pressure administration to pursue sustainable energy.