Green for Green: EDGE Fund Seeks New Proposals

Emma Baxter, Contributer

Students involved with Oberlin’s Green EDGE Fund have high hopes for the semester’s upcoming initiatives. Even with a fund totaling more than $250,000, College senior and Green EDGE Board Member Noel Myers believes efforts among students and administrators are often lacking.

“A lot of times we get criticism of projects. It can be hard when we don’t know who to exactly target because of the wide variety and diverse groups of students on campus,” Myers said. “The environmental movement sometimes gets put into a very particular niche where a lot of groups are interested in activism and social issues that are incredibly important but not so much focused on infrastructural improvements. We work closely with the administration and that can sometimes turn students off.”

Addressing this lack of student support is a top priority for Green EDGE Fund members this semester.

“We have $250,000 of Oberlin students’ money and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be getting 15 proposals for projects every week,” said Myers. “We want to focus on letting students know of our presence and the capital and infrastructural importance of what we do.”

According to College senior and Green EDGE Board Member, Evan Tincknell, each student contributes to the fund when paying for tuition and other semester fees.

“Most students don’t realize that they are the ones who contributed to our fund. We bring in about $50,000 a semester through student fees,” said Tincknell. “Each student pays $20 as part of a fee that can be waived, but most don’t. That money then goes into the EDGE account.”

Like Myers, Tincknell also voiced concerns about the fund’s recognition on campus.

“I don’t think students realize how easy it is to submit a proposal. We are focused on ideas that will benefit Oberlin and we take any idea into consideration,” Tincknell said.  “We really hope to see an increase in the number of proposals we receive.”

Last year, the EDGE Fund installed solar panels on top of Kahn Hall and switched the lights in front of Mudd Library and it’s bike racks to LEDs.

Because all of the current board members will graduate this May, the fund recently appointed four new members for the semester.

“We were looking for motivated individuals who had a basic understanding of what goes on in decision making, resource allocation and environmental issues,” Myers said. “We were also looking for students we could trust leaving this organization to.”

Of the 20 applicants who applied for a spot on the board, College first-year Julia Murphy was one of the applicants ultimately chosen.

“The EDGE Fund reminded me of something I did in high school where we were in charge of allocating $750,000 to enrichment programs to narrow the achievement gap in my community,” Murphy said. “I have been interested in economics and environmental studies, so it was a perfect opportunity.”

According to Tincknell, this is the first time that students have the option to receive credit for being a Green EDGE board member.

“We wanted to provide incentive for people to join, so this semester we are going to offer one credit of private reading from our faculty advisor, Shawn Hayes,” Tincknell said. “Unlike [Royal Thread Collective] members who get paid, we are a volunteer-based group. For Oberlin students that feel too busy, this adds incentive.”

One of the four graduating members of the Green EDGE Fund, Myers said he believes this organization has been the most influential extra-curricular activities in his time at Oberlin.

“Grant writing is an important skill to have, and the ability to hold conversations with people is really important, too,” he said. “Decision making, prioritizing what types of projects you want to accomplish, the initiatives you want to contribute to and just the basics of how difficult it is to make an organization run [are other skills to be gleaned from the fund].”

With four new members on board, the Green EDGE Fund is preparing to entertain new projects. The organization recently finished the installment of new trash and recycling stations around campus.

“We funded this pilot program to hopefully see if we can reduce cross contamination by having a uniform waste system on campus,” Tincknell said. “We always are thinking of the big picture for projects.”