Green Fund open to students

Grace Riggert

The Green Fund is now accepting proposals for the 2015-2016 school year to further UW Oshkosh’s commitment to sustainability. These proposals or green initiatives can be submitted by students during the academic year, allowing them to be a part of UWO’s sustainability plan. “We’re hoping that the Green Fund is truly a democratic fund that is open to everyone, and everybody is encouraged to participate,” Director of Sustainability Brian Kermath said. Kermath, who has been with UW Oshkosh for three years, said there have been no proposals submitted this year, but ideas may be generated through sustainability-focused quest courses. “There are currently a number of classes that will probably generate some proposals,” Kermath said. “Through the classroom it is a good way for students who would otherwise not be thinking of [sustainability] to think about it and to have some guidance from a faculty or staff person.” One proposal that is in effect and is being well received on campus are the two FixIt bike repair stations located outside of Reeve Memorial Union and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. “We have heard from many students that the repair stations are extremely useful, and they feel more comfortable commuting to campus using their bikes now that they can fix it if needed,” Cassandra Fowler, Student Sustainability intern and Sustainability director for the Oshkosh Student Association, said. Overall, the Green Fund is trying to increase the number of bikes used on and around campus. “There is a bike rental program in some dorms, and there are mountain bikes at the SRWC are being used on mountain bike trails,” Student Sustainability intern Emily Husar Martin said. Another proposal from last year currently under construction is the start of permaculture plant beds that will be placed around the Oviatt House next spring. According to Kermath, permaculture stands for permanent agriculture that is sustainable and includes many diverse species, such as edible and medicinal plants. “It could also be habitat-friendly plants that are attractive to bees or monarch butterflies and other kinds of wildlife,” Kermath said. Kermath also hopes the permaculture beds will help further educate students about various plant life. “Now, in the case of a college campus, we not going to plant medicinal plants thinking people will use them but rather it is a way to learn about what medicinal plants are,” Kermath said. Husar Martin said that winter preparations for the project will begin this fall. “This project will start small and expand as students get involved,” Husar Martin said. Both students and staff are excited to see how the permaculture landscape will add to UWO’s sustainability efforts. “The grounds crew on campus has been very supportive and is looking forward to trying this alternative landscape technique,” Fowler said Approved projects receive money from the Green Fund, which is funded through OSA with the help of student segregated fees. “Each year students pays $6.32 towards a green fee which goes into the Green Fund,” Fowler said. Kermath encourages students to get involved with the Green Fund and looks to have 10 to 12 proposals by the end of the academic year. “With the Green Fund, hopefully students feel empowered to make some of these decisions instead of being bystanders,” Kermath said. Fowler looks forward to expanding the Green Fund’s already numerous achievements here on campus. “I believe our biggest achievement [is] to be [the] campus’ response to the Green Fund and its approved projects,” Fowler said. “Everyone from administration to staff, faculty and students have all been supportive and excited to implement more student- run projects on campus.”