Pitzer College Proposes Green Initiative Fund to Encourage Student Projects

A group of Pitzer College students have plans to set up a fund called the Pitzer Green Initiative Fund (PGIF), which would aim to encourage student-led projects that use innovative solutions to address environmental problems.

Jesse Meisler-Abramson PZ '11, Pitzer's sustainability coordinator, said that such a model is used at campuses across the United States.

“Pitzer does have many options for funding, but none of them are specifically directed in this nature," Meisler-Abramson said. "What really differentiates this from seeking club funding is that the purpose is to call out proposals that might not have been proposed or thought of before. So it’s supposed to inspire a new type of action as well as give responsibility to students to create real change on campus."

Pitzer Student Senate Environmental Senator Allison Donine PZ '16, who has organized the group of students planning the fund, said that they hope to secure between $10,000 and $20,000 for the pilot version of the program. 

"That’s just, like, what we want to see initially," she said. 

Donine said that the motto of the PGIF is “From students, for students, by students.” She said that the phrase "from students" means that the money will be part of a visible fund that students will contribute to and care about. An initial source of funding has not been found yet, however. 

“It might come out of the student fees, it might come out of the president’s pocket, but that’s all very much up in the air, and that’s something we are going to work with the Student Senate to address,” Donine said. 

"For students" indicates that “the framework of the PGIF is inherently an interdisciplinary learning process,” Donine said in an address to the Student Senate on Feb. 16, adding that "by students” means that the fund will support projects that are "designed, managed, and implemented by students."  

Donine said that the PGIF will provide students with the opportunity to “fully engage with their community by integrating a range of people, ideas, organizations, and materials to develop holistic designs for an ecologically minded campus.”

The group began meeting in October 2013 to plan the fund and draft the bill for consideration by the Senate, Donine said. The group plans to submit the final version of the bill to the Senate in two weeks based on feedback from the Feb. 16 meeting. 

According to the PGIF proposal, a grant committee consisting of three students, two faculty members, and two staff members will be selected to oversee the funding. However, the three students will be the only voting members of the committee.

The committee will evaluate students’ proposals based on the following requirements: “Reduce Pitzer’s ecological footprint; be designed, managed and implemented by students; have measurable outcomes; include education and outreach to the greater Pitzer community; and work closely with faculty or staff to ensure successful implementation,” according to the PGIF proposal.

Meisler-Abramson said that if the Senate approves the bill, the proposal will likely be put to a vote in a student-wide referendum.

“We are hoping that next year will be a pilot program, and from there if it’s successful we will be able to get more money put into this fund,” Donine said.