Green initiatives are blossoming at universities across the nation, and the University
of Memphis is no exception. The University initiates a variety of green projects each
year, and a small portion of students’ tuition goes toward making those green initiatives
At the start of each semester, students are assessed a $10 Sustainable Campus Fee,
also known as the Green Fee. With more than 22,000 students enrolled at the University,
the small fee adds up to about $360,000 per year. Initiated by U of M students in
2007, the fee funds various green projects that are selected by the Sustainable Campus
Fee Committee, which is comprised of students, faculty and administration. This year
it is funding 12 green initiatives.
The U of M students who initiated the Green Fee requested that a portion of the money
collected go toward developing a program that gives students the opportunity to learn
more about green initiatives through internships that are relevant to students’ majors.
"The Green Internship Program is a huge opportunity for community engagement," said
Kathy Tuberville, coordinator of Academic Internships. Green interns are paired with
either campus or community supervisors and receive "hands-on" experience with sustainability
|Student organizations pledge to keep clean one street in the surrounding U of M neighborhood
for a semester.
Internship opportunities are offered at on-campus locations such as the Campus School,
but also in the Memphis community at locations such as International Paper, the Memphis
Zoo and the Memphis Botanical Gardens. Thirteen students finished the inaugural Green
Internship program in spring of 2011.
Tuberville said that employers participating in the Green Internship Program also
have the opportunity to "see student talent at work," which may eventually lead to
permanent jobs. She said, too, that the program has the potential to "make the community
stronger by everyone working together."
"It’s a win-win situation," she said.
Another project funded by the fee links the University with the surrounding community.
Each semester, U of M students representing organizations such as Greek fraternities,
honors societies and religious groups participate in the Green Fee-funded "Adopt-a-Street"
program. Students dedicate selected Saturday mornings to cleanup the area between
Patterson and Highland streets.
|The spinning disc in action, which will ultimately help detect concealed weapons or
guide helicopters to safety by seeing through kicked up dust and debris.
Each participating organization is assigned a street and sidewalk to clean. That organization
is responsible for at least two cleanings and one beautification project each semester.
Supplies needed for the cleanup, such as trash bags,
are provided as a result of the fee.
"The program has great benefits for organizations that participate because they get
a lot of experience with teamwork and leadership," said "Adopt-a-Street" coordinator
Laura Meyer, a second-year medical anthro-pology graduate student. "They learn the
value of civic responsibility and taking pride in their University’s community."
Meyer hopes that the Adopt-a-Street program will ultimately "create a sense of place
in the University West district."
Besides the Adopt-a-Street and Green Internship Programs, other green initiatives
are underway at the U of M. Public service announcements that promote sustainability
air on the University’s WUMR 91.7 jazz radio station. The University’s vehicles are
being replaced by models that are more efficient. The Tiger Blue Goes Green event
each fall showcases the University’s and community’s environmental initiatives. The
"TIGUrS" Garden is a demonstration urban garden that exemplifies both environmental
and economic sustainability while the off-campus Chucalissa Museum site is home to
a sustainable traditional medicinal plant sanctuary.
With more and more green initiatives developing on campus, the future is greener than
ever at the University. Visit www.memphis.edu/bluegoesgreen for more information about the Green Fee initiatives. — by John Stevenson