Raising the Standard.

MAILBOX: A Reader Expresses Concern

Sifting through the post. (Photo: Richard Croft)

Hi Gents,

I’d like to address inaccuracies in your most recent issue regarding the green fee increase initiative.

First, the fee didn’t make it past the mandatory fees committee, so it did not in fact get increased for FY14.  Second, we did the referendum to see if we’d get statistically significant results in support of the initiative.  We did, so we passed the resolution in favor of the increase.  It passed with all ayes w/ one abstention.

The resolution mostly names projects to be funded that have attractive payback periods.  Sustainability by definition is implemented to decrease resource consumption, which leads to leaner operating budgets.

If you would ever like to debate the effectiveness of the green fee, I am always available.  Additionally, I can setup a meeting with the Director of the Office of Sustainability to discuss further.

I hope to see a higher caliber of journalistic integrity in your next issue.

Tyler Faby

 

John Henry responds:

Mr. Faby, an SGA policy board member and author of the green fee resolution, makes one salient point I had overlooked in my research for the Winter 2013 SGA Watch. The Mandatory Fee Committee, comprised of students and administrators from the Board of Regents, did not take up the green fee issue for fiscal year 2014, so for now it remains at $3. It was not raised to $4 as indicated in the article, and I apologize for the oversight. Faby goes on to make several questionable claims, however.

He states that the referendum on the fee increase was intended to inform SGA of campus opinion about the proposed change so it could deliberate about whether to pass the resolution. Yet it was surely known by SGA that the tiny, unrepresentative sample of students who vote would support the increase, which we may safely conclude is why they proposed it. To describe the referendum as a mere fact-finding mission is to insult the intelligence of UGA students; SGA knows exactly how few students — and exactly which students — participate in their theater.

Now, as to those projects with “attractive payback periods,” Mr. Faby clearly has unalloyed faith in the “budget-leaning” power of sustainability. The projects listed in the Senate resolution don’t inspire much confidence, however.

First, there are these: “Enhanced waste reduction projects such as additional recycling bins, composting options and water bottle filling stations.” I mentioned these explicitly in SGA Watch as examples of dubious projects. How recycling bins “lean” the budget is never explained — although their up-front costs will surely lean students’ wallets. Likewise, purchasing $400 water bottle filling stations, if justified as a means to save money, is absurd. Water fountains have served the purpose faithfully for decades.

The resolution goes on to list “Increased transportation options such as improved bicycling infrastructure and electric vehicle charging stations” as a goal of the green fee increase. I’m no expert (certainly no policy board member!), but the payback period for electric car charging stations doesn’t jump off the page as particularly favorable, considering practically no one drives electric cars.

On and on the resolution goes, listing wind micro-turbines, rainwater harvesting, “interpretive signage” and the ubiquitous qualifier “as well as other tangible projects.” I read Resolution 26-23 prior to writing SGA Watch, and after a second perusal the judgment stands: “forgive our skepticism regarding future projects.

John Henry Thompson

 

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