ASG pushes for sustainability fund to encourage student groups to go green


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

A recycling bin. Following the elimination of a University-sponsored sustainability fund, Associated Student Government is pushing to set up a similar one using its own money.

Catherine Kim, Campus Editor

The Associated Student Government is pushing to establish a Student Group Sustainability Fund that will encourage student initiatives to help turn the campus green.

The Student Group Sustainability Fund was introduced in ASG Senate last Wednesday as a grant to support student groups pursuing “sustainability-minded projects.” The legislation’s authors, Weinberg first-year Carl Morison and Weinberg sophomore Juan Zuniga, said internal ASG money will be used to fund the projects in the hopes of pushing students to be more environmentally-conscious.

“If we do our job right, then it’s going to make that change seem like second nature, and it’s just going to become a normal habit that student groups do when they organize events,” Zuniga said.

The introduction of the legislation follows the termination of the University-sponsored Northwestern Sustainability Fund, which was cut for the 2018-2019 year as the University struggles with its budget deficit. Because the NSF’s budget of $50,000 was not approved, student-led sustainability initiatives have lost financial support, NU’s sustainability director Kathia Benitez said.

Unlike NSF, the Student Group Sustainability Fund is only open to ASG-recognized student groups, Zuniga said, although the goal is to expand its reach in the future. For now, student groups will apply for small amounts of money –– $100 to $500 –– to headstart projects, such as purchasing recyclable and compostable cups for events, he said.

Any action taken by students to promote sustainability is important, Morison said. The goal of the fund is to have students take the lead, especially because the University has been slow in implementing green policies, he said.

“Northwestern is pretty sluggish when it comes to sustainability and being green,” Morison said. “Once we show our commitment to the ideal of sustainability, then hopefully it’ll get the University moving a little quicker on matters like that.”

Zuniga added that he hopes the fund will encourage people to explore different sustainable practices and incentivize those who were reluctant to go green.

The fund is also partially an outreach effort of ASG’s Sustainability Committee, as the group will assist students while they establish a plan for their project, Zuniga said. He acknowledged that the process of gathering information can be daunting, which is why the committee will provide feedback on different sustainable resources and market prices.

“Sometimes it’s changing behaviors, particularly towards sustainability, which is sometimes a daunting task, just because there’s a lot of information out there,” he said.

While student engagement is never easy, Zuniga said he has seen an increase in students calling for more environment-friendly practices on campus. He hopes this fund will encourage more conversations about the environment beyond sustainability groups on campus.

Morison said any action taken against climate change through the Student Group Sustainability Fund will ultimately be meaningful.

“Every action you take that helps mitigate (climate change) is important and is something that I think everyone has a duty to do,” he said.

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