UMD Passes landmark student fee increase for Clean Energy

Just yesterday, the SGA passed a student fee increase at the University of Maryland. The new legislation creates an additional student fee increase of 4 dollars in 2010, and later more or less depending on the market in the future. This “could potentially purchase 100 percent of student consumption in clean, renewable energy,” according to the act itself. The money will go to developing clean energy technologies on campus, integrating sustainability education in the classroom, and making the campus run more efficiently.

What is remarkable to me at least about this referendum is that it was completely created by students for the university. Two years ago, myself, Joanna Calabrese, and Davey Rogner started Clean Energy for UMD in order to put this referendum on the ballot. It was in favor by 91% of the voting students, more then any other bill in previous history at the University of Maryland. However, this is a nonbinding agreement and there was no gaurantee that it would materialize into anything real until it had reached SGA, which finally happened yesterday.

Often, as an organizer, I get bogged down with the amount of red tape needed to penetrate “The Government”. Even on a campus level, sometimes it seems that no matter how hard someone tries they go unheard, or shut down for bureaucratic concerns. It’s hard to know if everything we are doing will end up in actual change or not. But so much has changed in two years. Two years ago, we were all still talking about the IPCC report and their finding that global warming is in fact very real. Now we have hurricanes hitting Texas, the U.S. government marking territory in northern seas in light of glacier melt, and (most) republicans admitting that global warming does exist. Gas prices have soared beyond anything in the history of America, and the average citizen has somehow taken heed of the future of our planet and our resources. Two years ago it seemed fringe to talk about the power of clean energy, and now we have a twelve year old who created a 3-d solar cell. Technology, it seems, will continue to develop beyond our wildest imaginations. And people too, are subsequently taking part in one of the biggest and fastest paradigm shifts to ever take place.

It means a lot to me that the students of UMD and even the ones that hold power are willing to pay out of their pockets for clean energy. Being one of the largest schools near the District of Columbia, our willingness to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels restores a little bit of my faith in humanity. Nationally, the stage is set for a clean energy revolution: an economy in the depths of a second Great Depression, a war over resources we shouldn’t even need anymore, and the technological advancements that are changing how see everything. People are starting to take notice. The change is just above the horizon, I’m happy to say that I know we really are going to save the world.

6 Responses to “UMD Passes landmark student fee increase for Clean Energy”

  1. 1 John Doyle Sep 19th, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Terrific work! You guys sent an amazing precedent. We’re working to have a similar referendum on the ballot this spring at UMBC. In our activity fee discussions we cited your landslide support as a reason why we need to offer students the opportunity to vote for this. If you have any advice e-mail me at, thanks and congrats!!

  2. 2 theDavidMartin Sep 20th, 2008 at 1:48 am

    Amy this is so great! Excellent work!!!

  3. 3 Jesse Jenkins Sep 20th, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Nice work! Congrats to you, Joanna, Davey and all the others at Clean Energy for UMD! Rock on.

  4. 4 Amy Dewan Sep 20th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks guys! We seriously couldn’t have done it without a lot of the help along the way, and of course people at UMD being really receptive.

  5. 5 ericastout Sep 20th, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I want to recognize the other co=founders of Clean Energy for UMD and the dozens of other young people in the group that made this happen. Without their commitment and dedication, the 700 signatures needed to get the referendum on that ballot could not have been collected, and 91% of voters would not have voted in favor. Thanks to everyone for their work!

  6. 6 Amy Dewan Sep 21st, 2008 at 10:48 am

    We had a few members at the time, but by no means dozens. We did have a lot of help along the way though, but we’ve grown a lot since then and now have so much potential to get amazing things done.

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About Amy

Amy Dewan is a Government and Politics major at the University of Maryland. One of the co-founders of Clean Energy for UMD, and an alumna of the Greenpeace Organizing Term Summer 2006, she spends most of her time daydreaming, some of her time playing music, a bit of time creating stencils for street art, and the some time organizing for change one mostly a local level. She likes to bike, but hates cold weather..but hates global warming, of course.

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