The Green Initiative Fund
By Editorial Board
Oct. 20, 2014 6:13 a.m.
Although the Green Initiative Fund referendum would extend an important fund past its 2018 expiration date, we do not support the current referendum on the ballot because its language fails to address the fund’s massive surplus.
TGIF was passed in 2008 as a $4-per-quarter increase in student fees that goes toward student-initiated sustainability projects on campus like the bike-powered Ecochella music festival and the solar panels that sit atop Ackerman Union.
The expense to students has increased since the fund’s original approval, with incremental raises written into the original referendum. The referendum on the upcoming special election ballot would indefinitely extend the fund and tie the student fee charge to inflation.
While the attempt to carry over a fund that has supported a number of important sustainability causes is commendable, the new referendum fails to solve the main issue of the current fund – namely the thousands of dollars of surplus that exist year-to-year.
For the 2013-2014 school year, the fund had more than $100,000 in surplus out of the fund’s total $200,000. Instead of rolling into the next year’s fund to pay for more green projects, this money gets funneled into the undergraduate student government surplus fund.
Part of this is a marketing problem, as student groups are often not aware of the fund and the wide range of projects it could help pay for. But regardless, a fund paid into by the students should actually finance the things that it was meant to.
Changing the language of the referendum to make sure 80 percent of the fund is in use, before tying fee raises to inflation would help to guarantee that students aren’t voting to pay for unnecessary additional charges.
With another four years before the expiration of the original referendum, supporters of TGIF owe it to fee-paying students to take the time necessary to craft a measure that will help meet UCLA’s sustainability goals long-term.