In a unexpected move, the Board of Governors voted on Thursday to reject Student Green Fund proposals from both Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU). The student led initiative would have implemented a new fee of $0.50 per credit hour for each student enrolled at the two institutions, and the money would have gone into a fund specifically for clean energy and sustainability projects on these campuses. The Student Green Fund is unique from other fees in that it is completely student led and student approved. Together, both student bodies voted to approve a green fund at their campus a total of six times.

The majority of the Board voted against the fee, citing concerns that student fees are already too high and the burden of higher education is too much on Florida students. Prior to the green fund vote, the Board also voted down another request to increase the Capitol Improvement Fee for multiple Florida campuses. Despite overwhelming support from students from both universities, Chairman of the Board Dean Colson, said that he “would never approve another green fee” for Florida students. Surprisingly, in rejecting the fees, Board members expressed strong support for university administrations to be supporting clean energy and sustainability initiatives on the front end, and not passing the costs onto students.

“We are disappointed in the Board of Governors’ decision,” said Anthony Ward, FAMU Green Coalition Vice President. “We feel like we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board to get these projects implemented, because there have not been enough resources from our administration to put clean energy into action even though students have shown how much they support the Green Fund.”

This is not the first fee of its kind – in fact, students across the state of Florida have been working on implementing green funds since 2006. The University of South Florida, New College of Florida, and the University of West Florida have all had green funds passed by the Board of Governors. This year, however, it seems that members of the Board of Governors had a mandate from Governor Rick Scott to reject all new fees.

“We are not stopping here. We will be the generation most affected by the effects of climate change, and the Student Green Fund was our way of taking action to protect our futures,” said Gladys Nobriga, student at Florida State University. “Though today was a setback, students are committed to leading the way on bold solutions to climate change through our public institutions. We will be the ones to make the shift to a clean energy economy.” 

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