Green Initiative Contest could reap rewards for Grambling

In efforts to beautify Grambling State University, administrators, student leaders and corporate sponsors have came together to develop an initiative to turn GSU into a “green” community.

Led by Corban Bell, 22, a double major in accounting and economics, has submitted documents for the Toyota Green Initiative Contest 2012-2013, in which the university would win $5,000 to build a tree garden, while Bell would be eligible to win a one year lease on a Toyota Prius plus $1,200 to spend on insurance and fuel.  The runner up will receive $2,500 towards their university to build a tree garden.

In addition, Toyota will visit the campus of the winner with executives, celebrities and past contestant winners to publicize the winner. 

Bell said his efforts started when he attended the United Negro College Fund and Environmental Protection Agency conference on sustainability with a fellow student. 

“We represented Grambling State University as Green Ambassadors, said Bell. “A session of this conference was a presentation by the Toyota Automotive company about their sustainability efforts and how they were interested in getting more involved on HBCU campuses. In an effort to achieve this goal, they presented to us the Toyota Green Campus Contest.”

From there, Bell entered his project blueprint and was selected to represent GSU among the other 27 university participants. He was recently notified that his project was selected to the final round in which GSU will be go up against Howard University in a public vote off beginning March 25 through April 7 where students are to visit and vote for Bell’s project. 

Bell has now partnered with the Student Government Association, authoring a bill, and with university administration to begin a recycling program. 

Titled as the 99 cent bill, it will establish a student self-assessed fee of $1 once for both the spring and fall semester, totaling into a $2 fee per academic year. If passed by students during the April SGA elections the bill would be effective for five academic school years and raise nearly $50,000 for recycling. 

The university has committed to assist in financing the programs startup cost and by covering the expense of an economy sized trash compactor and covering all trash hauling fees.  

“The university has been an integral partner through the beautification committee from the conception of the idea which led to this project,” said Bell. 

However regardless of the participation from SGA and university officials, Bell says the recycling program and the chance to win a tree garden is determined by the student body. 

“If the student body decides not to vote to establish the self-assessed fee, we will not have the funding necessary to begin our program. This will set our project back,” said Bell. 

Assuming the bill will pass and students will vote, the long term affects of the project Bell says will reduce the negative eco-environmental impact and establish GSU as the only institution with an efficient recycling program in Northern Louisiana, with the hopes to inspire future students to add further “green” initiatives.