May 6, 2014

SG projects aim to foster unity

After plans for holding two big events with $30,000 set aside as a Campus Unity Fund fell through, Student Government (SG) will spend $14,000 this year on three different projects. All three projects are intended to promote “unity” among students, faculty, and staff members in different ways.

The Fund was allocated to a Campus Unity Committee tasked with organizing the events. The first event was planned to resemble a Taste of Hyde Park day in fall quarter and another unspecified event was planned to happen in winter quarter, according to a post on the SG website from May 2013. However, plans for these events fell through when no one stepped up to lead them, leaving $30,000 that SG did not know what to do with.

The Unity Fund represents less than 0.02 percent of the Student Life Fee from the 2012–2013 academic year, in which Student Government allocated a total of $1,849,000 of Student Activities Fee funds.

SG allocated $14,000 to three projects during their February 13 meeting: $7,000 to a graduate student social event called Party in the Sky; $6,000 to One Campus, a day-long social event aimed at connecting students and staff; and $1,000 to the relaunch of Café Careers, a project matching up undergraduate and graduate students with similar interests. The remaining $16,000 will be returned to SG, though it is unclear what the money will be used for. According to SG President Michael McCown, the SG Cabinet will suggest re-allocating the money to other funds within SG rather than maintaining the Unity Fund.

Party in the Sky aimed to bring graduate students together. “I just had a spur-of-the-moment thought that some of this money could be put toward the Party in the Sky event to make it more affordable for grad students, especially in some of the divisions like humanities or social sciences where the tickets have been a little bit too expensive for them…and historically  [those students] weren’t able to attend in very large numbers,” Josh Johnston, Graduate Council Chair, said.

The event, held at the Willis Tower, almost doubled its attendance this year with the lower-priced tickets, according to Johnston. Last year tickets were priced at $65, but this year they were sold for $20 to $25.

One Campus was proposed by second-year Sindhu Gnanasambandan. The event, taking place on May 20, will pair up about 300 students with 300 non-academic staff to share meals. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served and will be free for all attendees. The organization decided to serve meals throughout the day so that staff members could participate in the event during their breaks without missing work.

“We’re trying to show more appreciation to the non-academic staff… [to] highlight their presence on campus, and really show and make students aware that they’re actually there and that they have a big impact,” first-year Leeho Lim, Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees elect, said.

The Café Careers initiative starting in the fall will match undergraduate and graduate students based on similar interests and provide each pair with a $5 voucher to have coffee together. The initiative began during the 2012–2013 academic year, but did not continue because it was not heavily advertised and not much money was allocated to it, according to Mark Sands, Class of 2016 College Council representative. Sands is spearheading the relaunch of Café Careers.

Editors Note: Sindhu Gnanasambandan is a Maroon editor.