Following Student Government Association (SGA) President and Goizueta Business School senior Beth Brandt’s veto of a bill that would have funded the University Student Emergency Hardship Fund with $2,000 from the SGA’s Fee-Interest Account, a proposal to provide revenue for the Fund with money from the SGA Executive Board’s Allocated Account passed following a 6-2 vote by members of the Board.
The vote took place on Monday and was made public on Wednesday.
The $1,500 allocation from the executive board’s account brings the Fund’s total to $5,000, the amount necessary for the Fund to be able to award grants of above 10 percent of the total dollar amount available.
Brandt vetoed the bill last Monday night despite a unanimous vote by the SGA legislature to pass it because, according to Brandt, the proposal to allocate $2,000 to the Hardship Fund from the Fee-Interest Account does not follow regulations outlined in the Monetary Code.
The Monetary Code requires that programs funded with money from the Fee-Interest Account be permanent structures, or those that will be in place for at least three years.
Brandt first proposed this alternative funding method in her e-mail that she sent to SGA legislators on Tuesday last week explaining her initial veto. Though Ratner said that he had not planned to continue pursuing the bill that would allocate funds from the Fee-Interest Account, he had been looking into alternative methods of funding.
According to Brandt, the Hardship Fund provided a catalyst for discussion among members of SGA over what appropriate use of the student activity fee includes.
“I think that the program is very good, and it definitely allowed [the executive board] to have some really interesting conversations about the use of the student activity fee,” she said.
Most importantly, she said, it allowed SGA to discuss the use Student Activity Fee money as a form of financial aid to individual students rather than to student groups.
With enough funding to begin distributing grants to students in Fall 2011, Stephen Ratner, College junior and Speaker of the Legislature, said that the next step is to put together the committee, comprised of students, faculty and staff, which will ultimately determine which applicants will be provided with grants from the Hardship Fund, as well as how much will be given to each student.
The $1,500 allocation is currently a one-time provision, according to Ratner, who is working with Student Life Committee Chair and College junior Jordan Stein to ensure the financial longevity of the program by reaching out to University administration. Their main focus right now, he added, is to market the program to potential alumni donors.
“We’re going to be working with the University Development Office to find donors who could possibly endow the account and make it institutionally recurrent,” Ratner explained. “In the meantime, we’ll try to secure funds from the sources we currently have.”
Brandt said that whether or not the program thrives depends on how well it performs during its first year.
“Future funding and future success depends on whether or not it’s successful in the first attempt,” she explained. “It has every chance for success.”
Ratner added that the Hardship Fund is a University endeavor rather than just an SGA program.
“We purposefully made it so it’s not just SGA,” he said. “We’re involving administrators, the financial aid department and Campus Life, so that after Jordan and I graduate, the main elements are still preserved.”
— Contact Alice Chen.