College Council Approves Emergency Fund; Elects New Chair

For at least the next year, any immigration-related applications will automatically be considered first-priority.

By Marjorie Antohi

At College Council (CC)’s Tuesday meeting, members approved a proposal to establish an committee to oversee the Student Government Emergency Fund and elected Class of 2020 representative Sat Gupta CC chair for the 2017–18 school year.

Class of 2020 representative Jahne Brown led two other members of the Emergency Fund committee in a presentation on the committee's aims. Although the organization is now a committee of CC, the organization consists of nine members of which only Brown is on CC. According to its mission statement, the Student Government Emergency Fund “protects and defends the rights of marginalized students on campus by connecting them with trusted resources and providing emergency aid.”

The Emergency Fund grants will come solely from fundraising, though intial fundraising events will be put on using College Council funding. The application process is extensive in order to ensure that applicants are truly in need of the stipend, requiring tax information, receipts, and an endorsement from a campus adviser or an explanation of why one could not be obtained.

For at least the next year, any immigration-related applications will automatically be considered first-priority. According to Brown, this rule may be changed after next year based on changes in the political landscape. This rule builds off of the ideas of the two resolutions passed by CC on January 3 this year. One of these makes UChicago a “sanctuary campus” while the other calls for the establishment of a student advisory council made up of undocumented, international, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students.

The Emergency Fund organization currently has a limit of $200 per person, which may change depending on fundraising performance. Fundraising plans include restaurant fundraisers, bake sales, and a benefit concert in the fall.

Some CC members expressed concern about whether $200 is a large enough amount of money to be of significant help for someone in an emergency. However, the members of the Emergency Fund organization explained that the $200 is intended more as a starting point to help people get on their way, rather than a means of completely paying educational costs such as tuition. Additionally, they explained that several of the costs immigrants are likely to face, including passports or plane tickets, lie around $200.

The election for the new CC chair took place at the end of the meeting. The CC chair is granted a seat on the Executive Committee and performs administrative duties such as setting up and orchestrating the weekly CC meetings. Both candidates, Gupta and Class of 2019 Representative Elizabeth Ortiz, spoke about their aims in running for CC chair and answered questions from some CC members. Gupta was then elected after a short discussion.

“There’s this perception in the University that College Council doesn’t really do much, that it’s not a proactive body, and I want to help change that perception,” Gupta said.