Few votes, large impact
After a special election held May 11, the student body voted to pass the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund.
The vote was close with 51 percent of students voting “Yes,” 46 percent “No” and 3 percent of voters choosing to abstain. However, only 24 percent of the almost 1,700 eligible voted.
The Advisory Committee for Environment and Sustainability, which was formed last spring after Linfield President Thomas Hellie signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment began the petition for the fund. The committee, under the new name of the Campus Sustainability Committee, will continue to manage it. This year, the ACES committee used its funds to pay for the installation of two of the five new campus bike racks.
The new fund will add $10 to student body fees each semester, increasing for next year from $103 to $113 per semester. These fees go toward student clubs, media groups, activities and events.
According to the petition, the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund will be allocated $34,000 annually, based on current enrollment.
About $19,000 dollars, or roughly 56 percent of the total fund, will be appropriated for grants. The grants will be available through an application process to students and staff who wish to pursue projects that will contribute to the sustainability of the college. All applications will be processed by the ACES committee.
The rest of the fund, $15,000, or about 44 percent, will go toward buying renewable energy credits from McMinnville Water & Light, Linfield’s main energy provider. The president’s climate commitment defines renewable energy as that generated from solar, wind, low-impact hydroelectric and geothermal sources.
The goal, marked by the president’s commitment, is to increase the amount of the school’s energy coming from renewable sources from 6 to 15 percent.
The petition was moved unanimously to a general student body vote by the ASLC Senate on April 27 after extensive discussion, ASLC Vice President junior Chris Norman said.
The same voting process was employed in this year’s ASLC election, which brought a voter turnout of 46 percent. Both Norman and ASLC Secretary sophomore Shelby Simmons said they expected more people to vote for the fund.
With the special election system in the ASLC bylaws, there is no majority vote needed for an amendment to pass. For example, only one person would have to vote, after Senate approved an amendment, for it to be passed or denied.
The nature of the voting procedures is something that may need to change, Norman said.
The fact that the petition went through Senate and then passed with student voters demonstrated that this fund was something the students wanted, Simmons said.
“[The fund] shows that students want to play an active role in funding sustainable energy for Linfield’s campus,” Norman said. “Students are committing the money right out of their pockets.”
According to the list of pros and cons Norman sent to the student body, the fund may not make a significant difference for current students during their time at Linfield. However, it declares a dedication to
“It’s not necessarily something that is going to affect us this year, or even next year, but it will make an impact,” Simmons said.