Holy Cross Students Vote “Yes” on Green Fund in First Campus-Wide Referendum

Paige Cohen ‘21

Staff writer

On Tuesday, October 8 through Thursday, October 10, the Holy Cross Student Government Association (SGA) asked students a question: Should Holy Cross establish a Green Fund, a financial resource for student-driven sustainability projects, funded by a $10 increase to the annual Student Activity Fee?

In this, the College’s first student referendum, the answer was a decisive 78 percent YES. The SGA reports that 1,340 students voted, over 40 percent of the College’s 3,000-student population. Now that the Green Fund has student approval, it will be presented to the College’s Financial Planning Committee and finally to the Board of Trustees for implementation in the 2020-21 school year.

Student Government Association Co-Presidents Caroline Babinski and Christian Realbuto shared this statement: “We are pleased with the voter turnout for SGA’s first referendum, and we thank every student who engaged with the materials regarding the Green Fund and used this opportunity to ask important questions. We look forward to connecting with the students who have worked on the Green Fund Charter in the coming weeks as SGA members prepare to present the proposal to the next Financial Planning Committee coming up at the end of the month.”

The charter for the Green Fund was drafted by students in the 2018-19 school year, calling the Fund a “financial mechanism…specifically dedicated for the purposes of environmental sustainability, renewable energy, and energy-efficiency projects on campus, led by any member(s) of the Holy Cross Community, including any students, faculty, administration and staff.”

The $10 increase in the SGA’s Student Activities Fee will be designated each year for Green Fund use only and any leftover funds will be carried over to future years. Outside donors will also be able to contribute to the Fund. For the first five years of the Fund’s existence, the maximum disbursement for one project will be $15,000. Students applying to receive Fund resources will have to receive majority approval from the Fund’s administrative review board, made up of students, faculty, a member of the Administration, and a member of Facilities. These practices and stipulations are modeled on similar sustainability fund programs already implemented at over 200 other colleges and universities across the U.S.

If approved by the Financial Planning Committee and Board of Trustees, the Green Fund would be the latest in a series of recent sustainability initiatives at Holy Cross. Since 2007, the College has been reducing campus carbon emissions through its Carbon Neutral by 2040 Plan. Other initiatives and programs include “trayless” dining halls to reduce water waste, more robust recycling and print management systems, and — new as of 2019 — electric vehicle charging stations. The student group Eco-Action has been involved in advancing many of these initiatives and provided much of the support for the Green Fund.

SGA co-directors of Environmental Concerns Fatima Oseida and Emma Powell released this statement following the result announcement: “We believe that the high numbers of support of the green fund demonstrates that there is an upward trend of campus culture supporting sustainability. We cannot wait to see what green-funded projects are instituted in the future. Holy Cross students are responding to a call for climate justice. The green fund is by students, for the students, and affirmed by the students. It is a groundbreaking piece of legislation for the SGA. We are so proud of Eco-Action and SGA’s collaborative efforts to let the students vote on this. This is democracy at its best!”

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