The Associated Students of Madison proposed the possibility of creating a sustainability grassroots committee in a meeting on Wednesday and ultimately chose to refrain from a vote on the issue.
Meredith Keller, Student Leader and Student Programs Coordinator at University of Wisconsin’s Office of Sustainability, said in open forum that OS hopes to work with ASM members on the issue of creating a committee focused on campus environmental issues.
Keller read a letter signed by the co-directors of OS.
“We are writing to offer our full support for and endorsement of a sustainability committee in the ASM legislature,” the letter said.
The letter said the office’s co-chairs were surprised to learn there was no current committee dedicated to sustainability or environmental issues within the student council.
ASM Rep. Colin Higgins said a committee within ASM would provide students with a voice in making sustainability decisions, an outlet that currently does not exist.
“I think the Office of Sustainability is doing great job.” Higgins said. “However, they are an administrative body, and they are stretched among the whole campus and they are stretched pretty thin. There is also really not an outlet to get students pulled into this, and that is another thing I really seek to do with this committee.”
Higgins proposed potential issues a sustainability committee could take up, including providing renewable energy sources and more local and organic options in dining halls on campus. He also cited water efficiency problems that a committee would be able to address.
Higgins said he has been in contact with the Office of Sustainability and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and both organizations agreed it is necessary to pursue a grassroots sustainability committee through ASM.
“I think environmental consciousness and environmental sustainability are issues that are becoming more and more talked about, and more and more evident,” Higgins said.
He argued segregated fees should be used to fund the committee, because sustainability is an issue that encompasses a lot of student life.
“It is a very large issue on this campus that could be worked on,” Higgins said.
ASM Chair Andrew Bulovsky said having a committee that focuses on sustainability issues would be beneficial to ASM, though a similar proposal was voted down two years ago because of a concern that there were too many similar groups on campus.
Currently, ASM’s University Affairs Committee deals with issues of sustainability.
Bulovsky said the council will continue to discuss the possible creation of a sustainability grassroots committee. ASM will bring the legislation to a vote in next week’s meeting, and if passed by a two-thirds majority, the committee would be created.