October 4, 2012

Power of Presence: The Sustainability Fund

Written by: Amanda Hill, Junior at North Carolina State University, majoring in Horticulture Science. Below Amanda describes her experience and involvement in The Sustainability Fund campaign at NC State. The campaign was organized by Greenpeace Student Board chair and Campus Coordinator Caroline Hansley

It’s funny how a single idea, a single movement can make waves at a University. Here at NC State in Raleigh NC, a recent addition has been made to the fees paid by students through tuition. I know, anytime there is mention of fees, spending or money when talking about students, people seem to get scared and nervous. However, this go around, there is excitement, joy, celebration and hope for a better future.

A few weeks ago I was walking in the brickyard and recognized a familiar face from two of my classes. A girl who is outspoken and obviously passionate had a little something to share with me. The Sustainability Fund was the topic, described as a $5 per semester addition to student fees. I found out the Sustainability Fund would go towards projects to reduce NC State's energy use and help fund renewable energy projects on campus. The money would also help educate students around sustainability. “For the Fund” had some pretty nifty buttons as it’s logo which caught my eye. So, I took a button, signed a pledge card that I was interested and continued on my way.

Over the course of the next few weeks...announcements were made, emails were sent, articles were written, calendar events showed up and there was more and more talk about this “fund” I was supporting. Where had this come from? A student? Was this really going to happen? Turns out, there were a lot of us, students all over NC State that were interested in the environment, green practices, earth friendly causes and more. We became a team. I gained passion and hope in this idea. Then, last week a poster making party was coordinated then a phone bank party shortly followed. It was amazing the movements being made towards the effort. Who knew this could branch out of one simple idea.

Then, on Tuesday October 2nd, the vote was held. The fee review committee of NCSU made up of 5 faculty members and 4 students discussed the importance of a sustainability fund. Around 40 students gathered around the perimeter of the Winslow Hall Conference room holding signs, wearing buttons and silently making a statement with their presence. The “team” was a little scared, nervous but also super pumped. Our team had no idea which way this vote would go...but we showed up anyway.

The vote was amended to $3 dollars per year, but passed. Suddenly all those posters we were holding were moving and we were all smiling and leaving to jump for joy outside of the building. I couldn’t believe what a difference had been made. The chair of the fee committee thanked us and made a mention to our presence twice. The power of presence, in its finest hour.