By ALEX HURLEY – CENTRE STUDENT
The Off-Campus Programs Committee of the College Council has voted unanimously to approve a new fee structure for study abroad grants at Centre College that will take effect at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. This new fee structure involves both a slight increase in fees for full-semester programs and the redirection of some existing fees to different purposes.
The increase in fees for the full-semester programs will involve a bump in the comprehensive fee from $350 to $375 to account for normal inflation. This $350 has not increased in many years, so the Study Abroad Office believes that this increase is financially appropriate.
The second change, proposed by the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee and the Study Abroad Office, involves redirecting $15 of existing fees to Centre’s Air Travel Mitigation Fund if the student has purchased an international plane ticket.
This $15 will come from a portion of the money from each student’s fees that previously went into the Study Abroad Office’s emergency fund. Director of International Programs Dr. Milton Reigelman has said that the emergency fund has already become strong in recent years due to growing popularity in study abroad programs on Centre’s campus, and so redirecting some money from the emergency fund will not lead to any issues.
The purpose of redirecting this $15 is to increase the effectiveness of the Air Travel Mitigation Fund, which is designed to “contribute money toward carbon-reducing initiatives that counterbalance emissions that cannot be reduced or avoided (such as those generated via plane rides to study-abroad locations),” according to Centre’s website.
The Air Travel Mitigation Fund was originally adopted in 2009 after the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee identified that carbon emissions associated with study abroad flights make up roughly 10% of Centre College’s annual carbon footprint.
This is the same committee that was formed to achieve Centre’s goal of carbon-neutrality by the year 2040 after President John Roush signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007.
The Study Abroad Office and the Office of the President also acknowledge that this fund has the potential to help educate students on issues of sustainability.
“Students need to leave here with a good sense of environmental issues or else Centre has not done its job,” President John Roush said.
The President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee has also identified that “the air travel mitigation fund represents a means by which we could bring together the important institutional values of climate impact and overseas study.”
With $15 redirected from every student purchasing an international ticket, approximately $5000 will be added to the Air Travel Mitigation Fund each school year, with the potential to increase as Centre’s study abroad program increases in size.
This money will be used for local carbon offset projects on Centre’s campus that will be chosen by the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee, comprised of Centre students, staff, and faculty – many of whom have studied abroad in the past. Previous projects include installing motion sensors on vending machines, which allows the machines to remain in an energy-conserving sleep mode until someone approaches the machine.
This new fee structure should vastly increase the amount of money brought into the Air Travel Mitigation Fund though, and so future projects will likely be more ambitious. The first of future carbon-offsetting projects will be presented this coming spring 2014 to those who will be studying abroad during the fall of 2014.