Juggling workshops, spring break community service initiatives, and a statue of a phoenix that can burst into flames—these are just some of the ideas being proposed for Student Government’s (SG) $40,000 New Initiatives Fund.
The $40,000 fund was created out of money from the student activities fee, ORCSA, and the Office of the Dean of Students to be put towards “things that [are] new, creative, and bold,” said second-year Matt Kennedy, the New Initiatives committee chairman. The money could potentially fund either a single large expenditure or a series of smaller proposals.
SG representatives introduced the fund in a presentation entitled “What Can $40,000 Do for You?” on February 8. They then opened the floor for suggestions, which included rentable computers, filmmaking workshops, campus-wide tea and coffee hours, Chipotle at Hutch, a bus shelter in front of the Regenstein Library, and making 57th Street a pedestrian walkway.
Past executive slates have pushed for a “big speaker’s fund,” Kennedy said, and in part due to their ideas, SG was able to establish the pilot New Initiatives Fund.
“All students pay a student activities fee every year that then gets allocated to different categories—some money to the graduate division of schools, the graduate council, the student government finance committee, academic funds, community service funds, and sports teams,” said Bill Michel, the assistant vice president for Student Life. “As part of [the] process of allocating funds, we talk with [a] variety of student leaders about where there’s a need for funding.
“A few years ago, we created a fund to support sports clubs, for instance. And over the last two years, we’ve been talking about identifying ways to encourage new and innovative ideas,” Michel said.
To apply, students must submit a detailed proposal by March 1. Applications can be found online at sg.uchicago.edu.
The New Initiatives committee will review the applications and then invite finalists to give presentations during 10th week, Kennedy said.
“The money can be spent this spring quarter or next year. We don’t have a mandate to spend money this year if there aren’t sufficient applications, or if we think we could get better proposals next year,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy stressed the freedom of the New Initiatives fund to give money. “There are no real formal criteria, unlike with the Student Government Finance Committee,” Kennedy said. “Most important will be the quality of applications.”
In addition, the committee will factor in results from a survey conducted three weeks ago, which asked students to rank how excited they would be about seeing different initiatives on campus, from 1 (lame) to 5 (awesome).
Respondents identified big speakers and fine arts programming as their two top priorities.
“We’ve heard all kinds of ideas,” Kennedy said. “We just hope people will be creative. That’s what we’re really looking for. Maybe even a kegger on the quad—that would certainly bring in graduates and undergraduates. Nothing is out of the question.”