The Student Sustainability Committee first became a reality back in 2002 after a passionate group of UIUC students gathered together in an effort to create a more sustainable campus. The initial main goal was to create an initiative to advance alternative energy projects on campus, but it later developed into something much greater. The students ultimately decided that the best way to accomplish this goal was to initiate a student fee and form a committee to increase environmental stewardship, inspire change, and impact students. They sought to gain as much student involvement as possible and ultimately give students a voice when it came to energy issues on campus.
Fifteen years and over one hundred funded projects later, a lot has happened within the committee. In 2003 a $2 per semester non-refundable student fee for Cleaner Energy Technologies (CETF) was approved by a student referendum. The intent of CETF is to provide renewable energy as a portion of the campus energy portfolio and reduce campus energy consumption.
A few years later in 2010, students passed a referendum that raised the refundable Sustainable Campus Environment Fee from $5 to $14. The measure passed by 77% approval and established University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign as having the largest sustainability funding pool of its kind in the United States!
Today the Cleaner Energy Technologies fee remains at $2.00 and the Sustainable Campus Environment fee is $12.06. Each year, these two fees allow SSC to allocate just under $1.1 million to projects that promote the University’s goals laid out in the Illinois Climate Action Plan and directly impact University of Illinois students through improved infrastructure, services, and educational events.
Collectively, the committee is comprised of twelve students who are dedicated to improving the sustainability on campus. With the help of ten faculty and staff that serve as member-advisors, they meet to review and vote on what projects receive funding and check in on those projects that have already received funding. Using the two student fees, they review submitted projects and distribute funding to projects that we deem to be most beneficial to the University of Illinois. Over 100 projects have been funded through the committee since its beginning.
In short, our mission to this day is as follows: “The Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) is a student-led organization charged with the distribution of two student fees – the Sustainable Campus Environment Fee and the Cleaner Energy Technologies Fee. With the ultimate goal of making the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a leader in campus sustainability, SSC reviews, recommends, and funds projects that increase environmental stewardship, inspire change, and impact students.”