Sustainability Action Fund back on track

SAF allocated ‘smoothly’ in 2018, says Queen’s Solar Design Team

Queen's Solar Design Team.
Supplied by Queen's Solar Design Team.
After an eight-month delay of grant allocation in 2017, AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Munro Watters prioritized efficiency for the Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) in 2018. 
Collected through a $2.00 opt-out student fee, the grant is awarded to multiple recipients per term to provide financial assistance to student projects that concern sustainability. There are three application terms during the year; summer, fall, and winter.
In an interview with The Journal, Watters said the summer 2018 application period “went off without a hitch.”
“As a general timeline, I set myself roughly a month to get the outcome email out to people,” she said.  
Watters admitted the fall term process was slightly delayed due to a “combination of factors.” The application deadline was mid-October, but the grant committee didn’t convene until mid-November.
“The exam period and the break also put a wrench in things, but it was only delayed by a few weeks at most,” Watters said. She added she hopes to see the process move in a more timely manner during the next application term. 
Last year, both summer and fall grants went unallocated, resulting in an eight-month delay for funds—which were finally granted in January of 2018. 
That month, when asked about the delays, former Vice-President Palmer Lockridge told The Journal there was “a little bit of trouble getting [the] granting committee together.”
Watters said there was little transition into the responsibility of the SAF. “I was told there was a grant and that was it,” she said. “There was nothing really detailed in policy or procedure about the fund or how it’s supposed to be allocated.”
Watters put together a new granting process based on other policy and grant procedures within the AMS. She believes the new process hews closer to general AMS policies and systems, and will ensure a smoother transition for her successor in the following school year. 
The Queen’s Solar Design Team (QSDT) was one of the recipients of the SAF in both 2017 and the 2018 summer term. 
The team designs and engineers a solar, autonomous house—Queen’s Solar Education Centre—on West campus that operates exclusively usingsolar energy.
QSDT Business Manager Jackie Wang, Comm ’21, couldn’t comment on previous years however, he told The Journal that the team’s 2018 grant money came with “no delay.”
“This year the process for us went pretty smoothly,” Wang said. “Before the school year started, we got our money. I would definitely encourage any group that has values that are aligned with the SAF to apply. I believe it’s a really great opportunity to advance some of the sustainable initiatives on campus.”
Watters also said the grant has been successful at promoting sustainability on campus and is valuable to future environment-oriented efforts.
“We have funded a lot of conferences, speaker series and workshops that are all incredibly valuable for that engagement surrounding sustainably on campus,” she said. “We also put a lot towards just regular organizations or orientation weeks where they try and have a little bit more of a sustainability focus, which I think is fantastic.”

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