Next year, Augsburg Day College students will find a new entry on their tuition statements. In the March elections, students voted to add a $14.75 student fee per semester to help the college purchase wind-generated energy for the campus.
The initiative was set in motion when students began organizing the Focus The Nation teach-in that took place on campus in January. Alex Hoselton, Day student body vice president, said the organizing committee wanted to build momentum and support for green initiatives at Augsburg. “If we wanted to have an actionable result from the event, it had to be something that was permanent and went beyond 1 year,” he said.
A student team conducted an audit of Augsburg’s energy costs to determine that using 100% wind-generated electricity would cost approximately $140,000 more than the college’s current annual electricity costs. The Day student government voted in February to include the wind energy fee referendum on the spring ballot.
The wind energy referendum passed, and the student senate also voted in March to add $10 from each Day College student’s activity fee to the initiative. That brings the total Day-student contribution to approximately $72,000. “Our strategy was to raise more than half of the estimated funds to leverage commitment from the administration and the Board of Regents through our own unequivocal pledge,” Hoselton said.
Some may wonder why Augsburg and its students would support this initiative if it means additional costs. According to Xcel Energy’s web site, wind-generated electricity does not produce greenhouse-gas or other emissions. The process also does not require water treatment for production.
For Hoselton, the additional fee is worthwhile because of the positive, lasting impact it will make to the campus and the environment. “It’s a moral issue for me. We say we need to be better stewards of the environment and better neighbors. If we aren’t living that out, then we aren’t completing our mission. An extra cost is marginal compared to what it means to be an institution with integrity.”
Photos courtesy of Kari Wheeler