Green Fees are becoming more and more common on campuses all across the country. Today’s guest blogger, Dan Cannon, a Florida Organizer at the Southern Energy Network, has the story in this repost from It’s Getting Hot In Here.
A simple idea of young people putting their money where their mouth is by creating small campus fees that cumulate to eventually set aside millions of dollars to be spent only on “green” projects. Green Fees are a great way to encourage campuses to go green quickly and consistently, most campuses and students groups are managing to set up green fees on their campus in one semester or less. Unfortunately for Florida students, setting up a green fee on campuses is an extremely difficult process. Unlike most states and universities any and all Florida student fees must first be passed through state legislation. So in order for Florida students to pass campus “green fees” legislation must be passed through the state legislator.
Luckily students in Florida have not been discouraged by this long tedious process. Florida students have made their campaign the Student Green Energy Fund a top priority; they have been working on the campaign since 2007. This year Florida students from eight campuses (FSU, FIU, FGCU,NCF,UF, FAMU,UCF, USF) have come together to work collectively around passing this legislation (Senate Bill 778 and House Bill 505).
The Student Green Energy Fund campaign has really taken off this year, after failing in the Higher Education and appropriations committee last year students have organized a strategic grassroots, media and lobbying plan. With both a Florida Senate Sponsor (Senator Constantine (R)) and a Florida House Sponsor (Representative Schecnk (R)) Florida students are hopeful.
A little less than a month ago Florida Students had their first victory on what will be a very long legislative process. The Student Green Energy Fund went through its first senate committee hearing (Higher Education). With Senator Oelrich (D) a UF alum chairing the committee and our Senate Sponsor, Senator Constantine (R) sitting on the committee, students were fairly confident the bill would pass with no problem. However, also on the committee is Senator Lynn (R) who is the chair of the Senate Higher Education and Appropriations Committee, Senator Lynn is responsible for the bills defeat last year.
With a large amount of confidence it would pass through this particular committee students took this opportunity to target Senator Lynn. Three weeks before the hearing committee two students from UCF lobbied Senator Lynn. Two weeks before the hearing, UF students met with senate Oelrich’s office to confirm his support. A week away from the hearing students from all eight campuses started pushing for media support and gathered on their weekly call to set specific grassroots tactical goals targeting Senator Lynn specifically. These tactics included very specific messaging, phone calls, hand written letters, emails, and of course tons of photo petitions.
The Wednesday night before the meeting twelve students from six universities (UF, FSU, USF, NCF, UCF, FAMU) gathered in Tallahassee (some driving as far as five hours) to strategically write their individual public comments for the hearing.
The bill was introduced and not to students surprise, Senator Lynn had something to say, she claimed to be supportive of the the Student Green Energy Fund. She mentioned the lobby meeting and thanked students for their overwhelming turnout and support. She then went on to say she was not supportive of additional unrelated amendments Senator Constantine had added to the bill. She said because of this she did not plan on voting for the bill. Senator Constantine was quick to speak up and said his top priority for this particular bill was the Student Green Energy Fund and immediately had his staffers draft up amendments that removed the additional language on the spot (now that’s a good politician). With the bill now being a very “clean bill” that only deals with the Student Green Energy Fund, Sentor Lynn voted Yes!
This was just one victory within the Student Green Energy Fund campaign, florida students have a long road ahead of them. With the Florida Legislator officially started students are continuing pressuring decision makers, recently Tyler Offerman from FGCU got Representative Kreegel (R) to also co-sponsor the bill and students are starting to organize a large lobby day at the capital on April 8thand 9th. Students in Florida will be tying the student Green Energy Fund lobby day into Energy Action Coalitions Define our Decade campaign!
Check out some media hits the clean energy leaders worked hard to get!
FSU News: Green gains ground at FSU
The Voyager: This new fee is worth supporting
The Voyager: Green Fund gets second try
The Alligator: UF students express support for renewable energy fee
The Campus Sun: Students to Push for Green Energy