UF Student Government is pushing the university to take its first step toward green, clean energy. Senate unanimously passed a resolution April 13 calling for the university to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2040.
In 2018, Gainesville committed to have all its energy provided entirely by renewable sources by 2045. The resolution follows four other Florida universities that have passed resolutions like this, such as FSU, UCF, USF and UWF.
“I couldn’t sit by and watch UF be the last school in the state to commit to 100% renewable energy,” Evan Smith, an 18-year-old UF political science freshman said. Smith is the president of UF’s chapter of PIRG Campus Action, a program to help students make “positive change” for the environment by feeding the hungry and contributing to public health.
Senator Alejandra Chaparro (Change, District A) and Senator Samuel Shoemaker (Change, Design, Construction and Planning) agreed to become authors of the resolution after Smith asked them.
Smith couldn’t author the resolution himself after a change in rules and procedures in 2020 limiting student involvement. Non-SG affiliated students can no longer author or sponsor any legislation.
On April 6, Smith spoke during Senate’s public comment, calling attention to the detrimental impact climate change has on earth’s ecosystems and environment. He summoned the senators to work with him on the resolution.
“It is time for UF to be a leader in sustainability once again and commit to green, clean university energy,” Smith said to Senate during public comment. “And you can make this change possible.”
With Judiciary Chairman Noah Fineberg (Gator, District A) and Senator Zachary Roher (Gator, Business Administration) as sponsors, this is one of the few bipartisan bills Senate passed this Spring.
“It shows that ultimately, we all want to make UF and the Gainesville community a better place, we just have to find a balance and work together to accomplish that,” Chaparro wrote in an email, grateful for having gotten Senate’s full support on the resolution.
This is just the beginning, Chaparro wrote, and she looks forward to writing future legislation in support of sustainability initiatives.
The resolution was sent to UF President Kent Fuchs, Dean of Students Dr. Heather White, and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. D’Andra Mull.
Smith was appreciative and encouraged by Senate’s support on his resolution.
“It shows how important student power and organizations like ours are to tell Student Government what the students’ interests are,” Smith said. “It just shows how important student power is in making decisions like this.”
Smith hopes to see the changes proposed in the resolution incorporated into UF’s Climate Action Plan, which hasn’t been updated since 2009.
“What our resolution does is set the goal,” Smith said. “It’s a very, very clear line in the sand that this is what students want.”
Contact Carolina Ilvento at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CarolinaIlvento.
Carolina is a second-year journalism major with a minor in sustainability. In the past, she covered stories and events for WUFT, and she is now reporting on Student Government for The Alligator. Carolina loves to do yoga and go to the beach whenever she isn't writing.