The gazebo on campus.

Photo by Brian Waldbillig ’18

For those of you concerned about the future of Winona State’s beloved gazebo, have no fear! The announcement of the university’s plans to convert the gazebo to a yurt was just a well-thought-out and totally believable April Fools joke. What made this news so believable is Winona State’s very real commitment to sustainability.

Even though the transformation of the gazebo to a yurt will not take place to support sustainability efforts, something else will be implemented beginning next year. And this is no joke!

Professor Joan Francioni, chair of the Sustainability Committee on campus, and student Alison Bettin explained the Green Fund Program to come. Students will pay a Green Fee of less than $5 per semester (which will be part of the Student Life fee) to go towards projects that will increase WSU’s sustainability and decrease the university’s energy footprint. This initiative came from students last year, and Student Senate passed it unanimously last month.

The funds will go towards supplies and infrastructure for projects, support for a new sustainability coordinator, student travel to workshops and training, and will support student and staff positions (this includes 10-12 Student Help positions for student interns and work-study jobs). The Green Fund Program will increase WSU’s effectiveness in the following areas:

  1. Integrating sustainability broadly across the curriculum and student life so that all students are able to advance their knowledge, skills and awareness of environmental stewardship and sustainability
  2. Using the campus as a living laboratory by enhancing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to work together to develop and implement solutions to campus sustainability challenges.

Now, since this will be the students’ money going towards the Green Fund Program, there will be ways for anyone to submit ideas on how to specifically put these funds to use!

The Sustainability Committee has been expanded to include five student members and that committee will oversee review of proposals and make recommendations to the administration. Student participation and input will be essential in putting these funds to use, and the process for submitting a proposal will be released soon.

Submit your green campus project ideas to jfrancioni@winona.edu.

#ConvertToTheYurt is not a real thing, but sustainability on campus is! Keep a lookout for more information to come about the Green Fund Program.

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Allison Mueller

Allison is a Journalism major and Psychology minor from Oshkosh, WI graduating in 2017. She is also the blog manager for the WSU Student Blogs. Her interests include rollerblading, hanging out with friends, playing soccer and basketball, and watching Netflix.