Student government adjusts sustainability fee

Student government has approved shifting the sustainability fee, also known as the Green Fee, from under the Student Activities Fee to its own area. This adjustment will officially be implemented in the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

This project began during last year’s student government under the leadership of President Emma Zellmer. According to current President Sierra Roiger, the sustainability fee project was not unique to this campus but involved all seven Minnesota State universities.

“Since this would become a system policy, once it was approved by the Board of Trustees, each campus was given approval to move forward with it,” Roiger said. “However, to charge students, it required approval by the campus student association or the campus student government.”

The student government’s role was to approve the fee and examine the sustainability practices of Minnesota State University. For MSU, the sustainability project meant moving the Green Fee, used for campus bussing, to its own area rather than under Student Activities. 

“That frees up like $18 under the Student Activities Fee, which is a lot considering one penny could be worth $1,200 when you put it together. The sustainability fee has just really become the new name of the Green Fee,” Roiger said.

Roiger also explained the concept of sustainability as being very broad and looking slightly different for each of the universities. For example, Bemidji focuses on to-go boxes; but since MSU has that covered, it has decided to focus on bussing.

“[The sustainability project] allows each campus flexibility to look at what their needs are and use it to support those,” Roiger said.

The problem with having the Green Fee under Student Activities arose last year when the campus came against the student fee cap. This meant MSU couldn’t increase support for any programming area because the cap had been reached. Roiger said the adjustment of the cap and the sustainability fee will allow students to get more from programs than just the bussing.

“It just allows students to actually have their money put in spaces where they can get the most benefit out of it because students who are online aren’t going to be able to use that Green Fee while students in-person are using that Green Fee to the max. And so, it is making sure we are being responsible with students and their fees,” Roiger said.

Roiger said student senators will examine closely during the March 20 budget meeting how the adjustments to the Green Fee will affect other programming and then make recommendations to President Edward Inch and Vice President David Jones.

“One of those recommendations will be for a 0% student fee increase, and the other will look at a 2% student fee increase and the potential of an even higher student fee increase,” Roiger said. “This would only happen if the programming areas are needing it.”

She also said the current arrangement of the Green Fee is not covering costs for bussing at $18 per student. Ability to more easily change bus hours of availability and bus routes for student convenience will be some of the benefits of adjusting the Green Fee as a separate sustainability fee.

“Now it’s not fighting against 30 other areas for support. It’s on its own and it’s intentional,” Roiger said.

Write to Tracy  Swartzendruber at

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