Vote for the future: vote green

Courtesy of UTD Student Government


College often feels like extortion — between skyrocketing tuition prices, fees and housing costs, choosing to increase how much you pay may sound insulting. But the small financial commitment of the “Green Fee” is a charge you should support, as it will make campus more sustainable, give power to student voices by giving them the ability to propose and approve projects and give students and researchers more control over what is done with their money.

A referendum will take place from April 24 to 26 where, if passed, students on variable tuition plans and all incoming freshmen classes will see an additional $5 fee added to their semesterly tuition cost, once the referendum is approved by the UT system. This small price increase will bring in roughly $150,000 per semester, which will be allocated to a “Green Fund” overseen by a student-majority committee. This will provide funding to sustainability-focused projects brought forth by Comets and faculty members. Texas passed laws allowing students to self-determine the fee — legally called an environmental service fee — in 2009, and other universities like UT Austin and UNT voted yes in the early 2010s. But UTD has been left behind in the green revolution. 

While we have the lovely magnolia trees, the community pollinator garden and the apiaries, UTD still lags behind schools like UNT, which covers half its energy usage with campus wind turbines among other sustainable projects. The “Green Fee” will play a critical part in catching UTD up to its environmentally-friendly peers. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System gave UTD a score of 65.73 out of a possible 201 for sustainability efforts, showing there’s still work to be done. More than that, the fee can help address the anxiety and dread our generation grapples with from the climate crisis, by overcoming it through engaged activism that pushes for a tomorrow capable of surviving — and perhaps healing — a shifting climate. Comets can pursue this sense of self-efficacy and do meaningful work using the Green Fund to fund new climate projects, which would make UTD a truly sustainable campus: one better able to invest in projects which reduce waste and fossil fuel reliance and promote research into efficient, renewable energy which ultimately allows students to add to their experience and career development by working on research projects they are also passionate about. 

Perhaps the best thing about this proposed fund is that it caters to proposals from the actual Comets of UTD. If you believe there is something the school is failing to do that could be tied back to sustainability, then you could propose it to the committee and potentially see your own ideas and work put into effect on campus. While students can express themselves through avenues such as Student Media or Student Government, the power these organizations have to actually directly impact the campus is limited both by budget and authority. The proposed Green Committee, which would oversee the Green Fund, is planned to be a student-majority committee with representatives from Student Government and the student body at large, in addition to key faculty in relevant fields. The committee’s structure effectively puts sustainability in Comets’ hands, by students, for students.

Dissatisfied by UTD’s dreary concrete jungle? Propose a wildflower garden to the Green Committee, which can beautify campus while benefiting the local ecosystem. Upset with campus traffic? Propose better bike infrastructure to decrease car reliance. The possibilities are limitless and can only benefit you.

UTD is the most expensive public university in Texas, and the roughly $14,500 students are expected to pay in tuition each year are entirely out of each student’s purview since they have no say on what their money is used for. A Green Fund would set the precedent for student-majority committees on campus transparently handling funds and distributing them to projects that Comets are interested in. Though the semesterly Green Fee would expire in 5 years once implemented, this student-forward approach can be made permanent by UTD incorporating it into the standard student fees or taking out bonds, which students can push for as well. 

The 2023-2024 school year has seen a series of limitations imposed on student voices on university campuses across the nation — and Comets are no strangers to that suppression, such as with the November 2023 removal of the Spirit Rocks. Despite these hurdles, Comets have persisted, by organizing protests and passing resolutions to express the student body’s opinions despite the actions campus administration has taken. In the wake of suppression and righteous outrage, the Green Fund should be used as another venue for student expression and activism, intended to make UTD an accepting and forward-thinking campus which is willing to invest in a sustainable future. If UTD won’t make the investment, we will make it ourselves. When the Green Referendum email reaches your inbox April 24, don’t hesitate to vote yes.


  • This article made some really good points!!! I didn’t even think about how unique it would be to have some level of student control over the usage of our fees.

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