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ASSU Senate allocates almost $50,000 to 12 student groups

Olivia Moore co-reported this article

The ASSU Undergraduate Senate allocated grants to 12 student groups hosting winter quarter events this week, disbursing just under $50,000 as part of the Senate’s new initiative to reduce its buffer fund.

The Senate had originally planned to allocate a maximum of $40,000 for winter quarter events, but increased this amount after evaluating the 20 applications. The total amount requested was $100,349.70.

“We are very happy with the wide variety of events we are funding with this grant and will continue working with the recipients when necessary on their events,” said Appropriations Committee Chair Nancy Pham ’14.

The largest grant was awarded to Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian-interest fraternity, which received separate grants of $11,400 and $2,482 for two events. The larger of the two grants will be used for Identity Xpression, a three-day workshop and panel event. Pham said that Lambda Phi Epsilon needed funding to bring the dance group Poreotics to the event.

The second largest grant was given to Chabad at Stanford, a Jewish student center, which was awarded $6,890 to resurrect Purim Bash, an event that had previously been cut due to funding shortages.

Sigma Nu applied for $5,700 for Snowchella, a concert attended by about 1,000 students every year. Michael Mezzatesta ’13, Sigma Nu financial officer, said that he understood why the Appropriations Committee granted him $1,000 less than requested.

“We were negotiating with an ice company in the Bay Area to build us a huge ice sculpture,” Mezzatesta said. “We thought that sounded super awesome, but I understand that the grant committee was considering lots of other awesome events and spending $1,000 on an ice sculpture probably didn’t fit their criteria for a grant.”

Still, Mezzatesta expressed optimism that Sigma Nu will be able to make several improvements to Snowchella this year as a result of the grant.

Financial officers from other student groups also said that they would be able to make noticeable improvements to their events with the money from the grants.

The Stanford Africa Business Forum received $6,320 for the Stanford Africa Forum event, which is co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Business. Financial Officer Mark Koskei ’14 said the grant will allow the group to bring in more expensive speakers and reach out to the wider Stanford community to attract more undergraduates.

“It’s a day for Stanford students to learn more about Africa that extends beyond the nonprofit sector,” Koskei said. “We are talking about opportunities in Africa and we have speakers coming in, most of whom are business leaders and leaders in their specific fields.”

Though Mezzatesta and Koskei’s groups received most of the funding they requested, some other groups received smaller amounts. The difference between grant amounts requested and sums received varied significantly, which Pham attributed to the Senate’s evaluation of each line item requested individually.

The Senate also assessed grant requests on the basis of events’ accessibility to the entire Stanford community and the groups’ usage of their General Fees discretionary budget.

“One main reason for [the rejection of] groups that weren’t selected was the availability of general fees discretionary funds remaining for their accounts,” Pham said. “We are still going to work with those groups to help them get funding for their event.”

The Senate is now evaluating applications for the second round of their grants program, which will award grants to groups hosting spring quarter events. The Senate received 36 applications for the spring and will allocate up to $75,000 to grant recipients.

Though the future of the grant program beyond spring quarter is unclear, student financial officers hope that the opportunity to apply for Senate grants and consequently improve their events will be available for years to come.

“I’m not sure if the grant committee will be comfortable giving money to the same event year after year, but it is an amazing opportunity that I think only exists at schools like Stanford,” Mezzatesta said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t at least try to apply.”