Uncommon Fund money for quadcopter, “hanging out,” and more

Other funded projects include a pig roast on the quad, a Young Adult fiction section of the Regenstein and bubble soccer.

By Sonia Schlesinger

The board of UChicago’s Uncommon Fund announced on March 10 that it would grant funding to 16 projects this year, totaling nearly $85,000. This year’s projects included bubble soccer, a pig roast on the quad, and more.

Student Government designates money each year for the Uncommon Fund, whose aim is to “realize unique ideas and projects proposed by University of Chicago students,” according to its mission statement. Usually, funding from Student Government is allocated to RSOs and their projects, but the Uncommon Fund allows individuals to apply for funding without RSO status. The projects and budget allocations are chosen by a board of nine students and a staff adviser. This year about 75 percent of projects proposed were funded.

Second-year Alec Goodwin’s National Symposium on Hanging Out received $25,000, more than a quarter of this year’s total funding. The Uncommon Fund staff adviser, Derek Bundy, explained that the project aims to bring in several high-profile speakers to campus to discuss hanging out, and therefore required a significant portion of the funding.

“For the board, this was a unique idea, and relaxation needs to be discussed more at UChicago so that students can learn more about reducing stress,” Bundy said.

Further projects include third-year Alex Pizzirani’s Sky Lanterns at Logan, as well as fourth-year Adrian Aldana and third-year Konje Machini’s UChicago Quadcopter ($1,334), which involves filming the city of Chicago from an unmanned helicopter.

“We got our inspiration from a video we watched of this in Beijing and the shots were pretty stunning,” said project leader Machini. “We wanted…to also see Chicago from quite literally a greater perspective.”

Uncommon Fund applicants begin by submitting outlines for potential projects to the board. The board primarily considers the feasibility of the projects and “if we would…fund these projects if we had all the money in the world,” said third-year board director Evan Rocher. “We then decide which projects we want to fund by looking at…feasibility, impact, and how well it meshes with the Uncommon Fund mission.” 

Most projects are approved in the first round, and their leaders then submit a YouTube video for online student voting, more detailed plans, and specific budget logistics. These plans have the largest impact on the selection of the projects. “The more detailed the plan is, the more likely we are to provide complete funding,” said first-year board member Sharan Subramanian.

Rocher, Subramanian, and Bundy all expressed excitement about this year’s projects. “They are plausible, safe, and meet policy,” Bundy said. “We expect them all to benefit the student body.”

Editor’s Note: News Editor Alec Goodwin had no involvement in the writing, editing, or production of this article.