UC, College Debut Student Life Fund

New grants totaling almost $75,000 will fund group travel and House formals

Unnamed photo
Peter R. Raymond

UC Vice President Randall S. Sarafa ’09, UC President Matthew L. Sundquist ’09 and Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds, from right to left, hold a study break in Lamont Library Cafe yesterday evening to answer question and interact with students.

The Undergraduate Council and the College dean’s office announced yesterday the creation of a new Student Life Fund of nearly $75,000, which will go to student group travel and House formals.

With the new grants, undergraduate student organizations and House Committees will now have access to over $745,000 in funding for this academic year, including funds through the UC that are expected to surpass a half-million dollars, according to UC Vice President Randall S. Sarafa ’09. The money for the Student Life Fund will come from Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds’ discretionary fund.

“Student groups have continually voiced a need to have funding for travel,” UC President Matthew L. Sundquist ’09 said. In the past, he said, the UC funded travel only within the Boston area, so students often had to raise money or pay out of their own pockets.

Associate Dean of Student Life and Activities Judith H. Kidd said that the administration has heard an increasing number of requests for transportation funding for extraordinary travel by student organizations. The new fund, she said, will be more efficient than previous one-off grants.

As with the UC’s standard student group grants, organizations will apply for Student Life grants using the Common Grant Application and then interview with the Council’s Finance Committee, which will make a recommendation to the entire UC. The Council estimated that there will be a funding cap of approximately $2,000 per grant, which can be used to cover transportation costs only.

The Council will grant around $45,000 to student groups for transportation. While the grants cannot be applied to lodging or other costs, organizations may also apply for funding beyond transportation expenses. The additional funding would come from the UC’s grants fund, while money specifically for transportation would come from the Student Life Fund.

The UC will give preference to organizations that want to travel in order to do something new, different, and often unexpected.

“We wouldn’t see the funds as something that student groups would want to be counting on as a continual source of support for yearly travel,” Sundquist said. “We hope to subsidize unique or special opportunities that arise for student groups.”

Harvard Ballroom Dance Team Treasurer Viki Chernow ’11 said she hopes the Student Life Fund will allow the team to send members to new competitions at the regional and national levels.

Student organizations may apply for the new grants starting today, on a rolling basis. They may apply either prospectively—at least 21 days in advance—or retroactively, as long as they apply by the end of the semester in which their travel took place.

Money from the new fund—about $30,000—will also go to House formals.

“House formals are one of the few opportunities during the year when the entire house community can get together and do something just as a house,” Sundquist said. “We want to make sure all the Houses are able to put on the best formal they can.”

“The College is all about wanting to support House life, especially without a student center,” Kidd said.

House Committees may apply for two grants of up to $1,250 each from the fund, for one formal per semester, though they are not guaranteed to be rewarded the money.

HoCos have traditionally paid for the formals from their budgets, which each include approximately $9,000 in yearly funding from the UC, sometimes in addition to money from the Houses.

Money from the Student Life Fund may be used for alcohol for House formals as long as HoCos use an age-verification procedure such as a Beverage Authorization Team.

Yesterday evening Sundquist, Sarafa, and Dean Hammonds held office hours together in the Lamont Library Café over cookies, in part to answer students’ questions about the new fund.

—Staff writer Alex M. McLeese can be reached at