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SGA advocates renewal of wind energy program

What’s $23 compared to thousands?

That’s the opinion of Adam Brittin, SGA president and graduating senior, on the question Eastern students must face when presented with their tuition bill:

Check “yes” or check “no”?

If each Eastern student decided to check yes, Eastern could be 100 percent wind powered.

Recently SGA unanimously passed a proposal to the administration asking that Eastern’s wind energy contract, which runs out in July, be renewed for another three years.

Paying the fee to support wind power will remain optional, according to the proposal. At first, Brittin had thoughts of proposing that the fee be mandatory, but it was decided that tacking another fee onto tuition would be a bad idea.

According to Marvin Meyer, professor emeritus of biology, about 55 percent of students checked “yes” to support wind energy in fall of 2003, when the program was first implemented. Only about 25 percent checked “yes” this year. Consequently, about 25 percent of Eastern’s energy comes from wind power.

Students and professors working to promote wind energy, which includes the student group SPEAK, feel that if more students were aware of the benefits the program provides, more “yes” boxes would be checked. According to Meyer, the goal is to see 75 percent of students check the “yes” box.

To that end, a table with piles of information, manned by passionate (if sunburned) students and adorned with wind-generator replicas stood outside of Walton Hall from April 19-21. Stacks of postcards were given away in hopes that students would send them home to their parents. Parents would then be just as informed to make a decision to support wind energy or not, since many times parents may end up filling out the tuition paperwork.

The students and professors involved in these efforts are aware that parents and students already have a lot demanding their attention. However, the issue is important and the effort to support it is minimal.

“It’s stewardship. It’s a matter of just being long-term responsible,” junior Andrew Howe said at a wind energy meeting on April 10.

“I mean, we could easily switch to other forms of energy that don’t pollute our environment, but it’s not talked about,” added Professor Dave Hoferer, assistant professor of biology.

The SGA proposal also suggested that a brochure detailing the wind energy program be sent home with each tuition statement. This would enlighten people who otherwise might be unaware what the box on their bill is all about.

Another suggestion was an annual wind energy awareness day, to be led by groups such as the SGA and the Science Department.

According to Brittin, SGA’s goal in passing the proposal was to protect the environment by curbing the effects of the coal industry.

“It works with the doctrinal statement of Eastern,” Brittin said.

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