Florida Students Start the Long Road to Their Student Green Energy Fund Campaign

{Written by Dan Cannon, Florida Organizer at the Southern Energy Network}

Green energy fund

Green Fees are becoming more and more common on campuses all across the country. A simple idea of young people putting their money where their mouth is by creating small campus fees that cumulate to eventually set aside millions of dollars to be spent only on “green” projects. Green Fees are a great way to encourage campuses to go green quickly and consistently, most campuses and students groups are managing to set up green fees on their campus in one semester or less. Unfortunately for Florida students, setting up a green fee on campuses is an extremely difficult process. Unlike most states and universities any and all Florida student fees must first be passed through state legislation. So in order for Florida students to pass campus “green fees” legislation must be passed through the state legislator.
Luckily students in Florida have not been discouraged by this long tedious process. Florida students have made their campaign the Student Green Energy Fund a top priority; they have been working on the campaign since 2007. This year Florida students from eight campuses (FSU, FIU, FGCU,NCF,UF, FAMU,UCF, USF) have come together to work collectively around passing this legislation (Senate Bill 778 and House Bill 505).

The Student Green Energy Fund campaign has really taken off this year, after failing in the Higher Education and appropriations committee last year students have organized a strategic grassroots, media and lobbying plan. With both a Florida Senate Sponsor (Senator Constantine (R)) and a Florida House Sponsor (Representative Schecnk (R)) Florida students are hopeful.

A little less than a month ago Florida Students had their first victory on what will be a very long legislative process. The Student Green Energy Fund went through its first senate committee hearing (Higher Education). With Senator Oelrich (D) a UF alum chairing the committee and our Senate Sponsor, Senator Constantine (R) sitting on the committee, students were fairly confident the bill would pass with no problem. However, also on the committee is Senator Lynn (R) who is the chair of the Senate Higher Education and Appropriations Committee, Senator Lynn is responsible for the bills defeat last year.

With a large amount of confidence it would pass through this particular committee students took this opportunity to target Senator Lynn. Three weeks before the hearing committee two students from UCF lobbied Senator Lynn. Two weeks before the hearing, UF students met with senate Oelrich’s office to confirm his support. A week away from the hearing students from all eight campuses started pushing for media support and gathered on their weekly call to set specific grassroots tactical goals targeting Senator Lynn specifically. These tactics included very specific messaging, phone calls, hand written letters, emails, and of course tons of photo petitions.

The Wednesday night before the meeting twelve students from six universities (UF, FSU, USF, NCF, UCF, FAMU) gathered in Tallahassee (some driving as far as five hours) to strategically write their individual public comments for the hearing.

Clean energy leaders with Florida Legislators

The bill was introduced and not to students surprise, Senator Lynn had something to say, she claimed to be supportive of the the Student Green Energy Fund. She mentioned the lobby meeting and thanked students for their overwhelming turnout and support. She then went on to say she was not supportive of additional unrelated amendments Senator Constantine had added to the bill. She said because of this she did not plan on voting for the bill. Senator Constantine was quick to speak up and said his top priority for this particular bill was the Student Green Energy Fund and immediately had his staffers draft up amendments that removed the additional language on the spot (now that’s a good politician). With the bill now being a very “clean bill” that only deals with the Student Green Energy Fund, Sentor Lynn voted Yes!

This was just one victory within the Student Green Energy Fund campaign, florida students have a long road ahead of them. With the Florida Legislator officially started students are continuing pressuring decision makers, recently Tyler Offerman from FGCU got Representative Kreegel (R) to also co-sponsor the bill and students are starting to organize a large lobby day at the capital on April 8thand 9th. Students in Florida will be tying the student Green Energy Fund lobby day into Energy Action Coalitions Define our Decade campaign!

Check out some media hits the clean energy leaders worked hard to get!

FSU News: Green gains ground at FSU

WCTV6: Students Lobby for Green Energy Fund Legislation

The Voyager: This new fee is worth supporting

The Voyager: Green Fund gets second try

The Alligator: UF students express support for renewable energy fee

The Campus Sun: Students to Push for Green Energy

3 Responses to “Florida Students Start the Long Road to Their Student Green Energy Fund Campaign”

  1. 1 Miller Britzke Mar 12th, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Thats great we have had the technology for years to go green. Yet we contiue to rely on fossil fuels and for what reason. These fosil fuels will be gone before we know it. I am actually in the process of turning my entire home over to green energy. In this economy we can not rely on money always being there for us to pay our every day bills. So by eliminating one or 2 of these bills I can assure I wont have to worry about the next time my electric company desides to hick up their energy cost. Thanks for sharing this I look forward to reading more of your post on green energy. Keep up the great work.

  2. 2 RB Mar 16th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Oelrich is an R and a FSU Alum.

  3. 3 gazi karim Jul 5th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    One thing we humans have learned is that many of the important resources we have come to depend on are not renewable. Nonrenewable means that once a resource is depleted it is gone forever.Because of human impact and influence all around the Earth, it is important to understand our natural resources, protect them, use them wisely, and plan for future generations. The environment—land, soil, water, plants, minerals, and animals—is a marvelously complex and dynamic system that often changes in ways too subtle to perceive.
    Today, we have enlarged our vision of the landscape with which we interact. Farmers manage larger units of land, which makes their job more complex. People travel greater distances more frequently. Even when they stay at home, they experience and affect a larger share of the world through electronic communications and economic activities-and natural resources have made these advancements possible.

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About Tommaso

Tommaso Boggia moved to Oakland in 2010 to pursue a Master in Public Administration from the Presidio Graduate School. He previously lived in Washington D.C. where he worked at the Center for American Progress as a Climate Advocacy Associate and participated in the creation of The Bike House Co-op, a non-profit organization whose mission is to be a place where all people can learn about, work on, and enjoy bikes. Tommaso received his MPA degree in June 2012 and is currently exploring opportunities for employment in local government. His final thesis was an Implementation Plan for the creation of a Business Improvement District in Jack London. Tommaso spends his weekends sailing in the estuary, cooking with friends, and fixing up his old, but cherished sailboat residence.

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