As Grants Manager for The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) — whose student lock-in fee is up for reaffirmation next week — I would like to clarify the remarks made by the Nexus in the endorsements (or lack thereof) of student fees on the ballot. The Nexus stated that “the most expensive projects [funded by TGIF] have been off-campus” and included that these projects do not provide tangible benefits to the UCSB campus. For the record, the TGIF Committee, which is a student-majority governing body, has awarded approximately 45 grants over the past four years. Only three of these grants were awarded to UCSB research facilities located off-campus — accounting for 9.8 percent of the $596,350 in total grants awarded.
That means 42 grants went to on-campus projects, which include waterless urinals in several campus buildings, shower minders in Santa Cruz Hall, a photovoltaic solar array on the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) building, a student-run recycling program in Ellison Hall, a ZipCar rental car for student use only, and over 20 student internships. All of these projects have had tremendous benefits, not only to the campus energy, water and waste reduction efforts, but also to the students involved, either as paid interns or volunteers.
Furthermore, the TGIF Committee does not take funding off-campus projects lightly. All projects are selected based on whether there will be a direct impact to the campus and whether it will be visible to UCSB students. The research facilities that received grants are included in the main UCSB utility budget and greenhouse gas inventory — so reductions at these facilities directly impact the campus energy and emissions reduction goals. In addition, these facilities host numerous UCSB students for field courses and research every year.
My hope is that every student voting this year reviews the TGIF (and every fee’s) information carefully so they can make their own informed decision.