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ASW Eco-council grants remain untouched

Westminster students Eliza Van Dyk, Esther Daranciang and Rosanise Odell work on their computers in the Environmental Center at Westminster College in December 2017. In 2016, ASW created the Eco-Warrior grant to provide students the opportunity to conduct research, class projects and initiatives to create a more sustainable campus, but the program hasn’t yet received any applications. (Photo by Katie Felice)

ASW created the Eco-Warrior grant in 2016 to provide students the opportunity to conduct research, class projects and initiatives to create a more sustainable campus. However, the program hasn’t yet received any applications — leaving an accumulated $11,789 in untouched funds.

Sabi Lowder, ASW President, said she is hopeful the grant will be utilized this year.

“I think that Kaydee Gilson (our new vice president), Mariah McCoy and Brendan McKelvy [members of the Eco-council] are going to do an awesome job with it in the spring,” said Lowder in an email to The Forum. “I love that our campus community is so environmentally aware and active, and the Eco-Warrior grant is a way for students to take that passion and channel it into a project.”

Westminster College’s Board of Trustees approved legislation implementing a $2 increase in student fees in 2015 — an initiative ASW Senate used to create an Eco-council, which aimed to fund opportunities for student sustainability projects.

Like the Eco-Warrior grant, The Forum found last year that student awareness of the Eco-Council was low and the money had sat untouched.

“I want students to know this thing even exists,” said McKelvy, a junior marketing major who works on the grant committee, in an email to The Forum. “There is no doubt we have students with the intellect of producing projects that could be used by the grant. It’s just a matter of those students taking time and wanting to be involved.”

The funds for the grant come from student fees and can only go toward students, according to McCoy, a senior global environmental justice custom major and ASW senator. Modeled after other colleges in the state and across the country, the grant looks to provide students the opportunity to work on sustainability projects, attend events and conferences or create something new on campus.

“Basically anything students can do that would be environmentally related,” McCoy said.

ASW’s Eco-council consists of five members who meet monthly to review Eco-Warrior applications and discuss funded projects. The council reviews any submitted requests within two weeks of submission, and any student who is registered for at least two credit hours is eligible to apply.

Any grant under $1,000 can be approved by a committee of three to four people. But if a student needs more than that, the campus sustainability council, which consists of students, faculty and community members, would review the application. The sustainability council only meets four times a year, making it more difficult to receive a larger grant.

McCoy said some examples of eligible projects for the grant could be art installations or planting a new garden on campus. She said one idea, which isn’t solidified yet, would clean up the creek on campus by making new pathways and putting up benches.

“It’s a really new grant on campus and I think it is an unexplored opportunity yet, so we need some imaginative students to come in and try to create something with it,” she said. “I greatly encourage anybody with any ideas — if they want to travel to a conference, if they want to create a garden on campus — to absolutely contact any of the ASW folks and they will point you in the right direction.”

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