At Loyola, it’s easy to be green — for one more year, at least.
The $50,000 Green Initiative Fund — or as it is abbreviated on promotional materials, TGIF — is entering its third and potentially last year since it was recommended to the administration via student referendum in March 2013. The fund, which gets half of its funding from mandatory student development fees and half from the facilities budget, will be evaluated for renewal at the end of this school year.
This will be the first time the fund is reviewed, and the administration will choose whether to increase, decrease, or eliminate the fund’s budget. In 2014-2015, each of the 10,322 undergraduate students indirectly contributed approximately $2.42 to the fund through the student development fee of $762 per year per student. The $25,000 fund accounts for about 0.32 percent of the approximately $7.9 million raised by the student development fee.
Through TGIF, Loyola students can submit proposals for projects that promote eco-friendly technologies — such as electricity generating bicycles — and lifestyles. If their proposal is accepted, students can receive anywhere from $500 to $10,000 in funding. Students do not need to be part of an environmentally focused major, class or group to propose a project.
Recent initiatives include the “Kill the Cup” project, an effort to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups on campus.
The fund has never paid out the full $50,000 simply because the full amount hasn’t been requested by students to fund their projects. The most awarded to students was approximately $36,630 during the 2013-2014 school year, according to Loyola’s Director of Sustainability and TGIF advisor Aaron Durnbaugh.
Durnbaugh has been looking at the fund’s operations and structure.
“We’re planning to do … an evaluation, not just on the projects that were funded, but on how the fund is set up,” Durnbaugh said. “While we’ve only spent about half the money each year, there are [more] projects, bigger projects too, that we could support.”
Sundal Hashwani, TGIF chair and Student Government of Loyola Chicago executive sustainability officer, said she hopes the fund will be renewed.
“I’m currently trying to write a proposal to keep it alive,” said Hashwani.
The 21-year-old senior and biology major said one of her biggest concerns is assuring administrators that setting aside the $50,000 budget is worth it.
“We try as hard as we can to use the full fund because [the unused money] will just be absorbed back into the university,” said Hashwani.
Unspent money from the fund is given back to the university for financial aid, operating costs or to build the endowment, Durnbaugh said in an email to The Phoenix.
To take advantage of the fund’s available budget, students need to propose more projects. TGIF’s Public Relations Chair, Kelsey Cheng, said she is trying to increase student interest. TGIF is partnering with Rambler Buzz, SGLC, the Student Environmental Alliance and the Institute of Environmental Sustainability to spread the word, she said.
Durnbaugh also encourages students from any academic program to get involved, as it can help students be competitive in their job search.
“What differentiates students when they leave university isn’t their degree,” Durnbaugh said. “What differentiates [students] is the experience [of] actually coming up with something, partnering with something and seeing it through.”
Senior Allison Ryder said she hopes the university continues to fund TGIF because she thinks the green initiatives make Loyola a place people want to come to for an education.
“I think that [Loyola’s environmental sustainability programs] actually draw a lot of people into coming here because people are looking for environmentally friendly and sustainable places to begin their lives and form the values and ethics behind that,” said the 20-year-old finance and international business double-major.
Veronica Krysa, 21, thinks the administration will most likely decrease the amount of money provided for TGIF since the fund has never spent the full amount available. Her hopes, however, are different from her prediction.
“I wouldn’t want [Loyola’s administration] to decrease [TGIF funding],” said the senior marketing and management double-major. “One of the good things about Loyola is that they give you the opportunities to actually make changes to the university that you want.”
The deadline for students to apply for TGIF funding this semester is Sept. 14. Students may additionally apply for funding in the spring semester before the Jan. 25 deadline.