University News

Applications roll in for alternative gift fund grants

Gift for a Sexual Assault-Free Campus seeks to support sexual assault prevention groups

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Applications opened Jan. 13 for the Gift for a Sexual Assault-Free Campus, a fund that offers grants to student groups working to combat sexual assault on campus.

A committee comprising two undergraduates and one graduate student will decide how to allocate the funds to different student groups.

Imagine Rape Zero established the fund in spring 2014 as an alternative to the Brown Annual Fund’s senior class gift. The alternative fund allowed students last spring who were displeased with “how survivors were treated” by the University to ensure their donations to the Brown community would be earmarked for sexual assault prevention efforts, said Jeanette Sternberg Lamb ’15, a committee member.

“There were students who didn’t want to give to Brown because they knew the University wasn’t doing a great job protecting survivors, but they did want to give to somewhere,” said Emily Schell ’16, another committee member and founder of Stand Up!, a student organization that aims to prevent sexual assault on campus.

To address the conflict of interest when Schell’s group, Stand Up!, applies for a grant, Sternberg Lamb said the three other committee members will review the organization’s application without Schell present.

Additionally, members of Stand Up!’s budget subcommittee will write the application without Schell’s input, Schell said.

Though the fund was originally meant to exist outside of University jurisdiction, Annual Fund organizers approached the students behind the Gift for a Sexual Assault-Free Campus and matched donations up to $10,000, Sternberg Lamb said. The managers of the alternative fund resolved to let the Annual Fund absorb it as a way to protect the money, she added.

Despite its integration into the Annual Fund, the Gift will still serve the campus groups that it selects.

“We want to commit money to marginalized individuals,” such as people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and those with disabilities, Sternberg Lamb said, adding that these individuals “are the most likely to be assaulted (and) are often overlooked or underserved or dismissed entirely.”

Sternberg Lamb said she hopes the fund will “demonstrate to the University how (it) can work with communities who need it most.”

Though the group did not reach its fundraising goal of $37,000, Sternberg Lamb said the Gift received enough donations to sponsor “a number of programs.”

“People can donate to the fund regardless of whether or not they donate to the Annual Fund,” said Director of Health Promotion Frances Mantak, who serves as the adviser to the board.

“It demonstrates a love for Brown but also serves as a way for it to get better,” Sternberg Lamb said.

The fund retains its relevance on campus despite the University’s recent implementation of the Task Force on Sexual Assault’s interim recommendations, Schell said.

“While the University is definitely pumping more money into the system, it’s at an institutional level, and it’s not trickling down into student groups,” she said.

Many sexual assault prevention student groups are designated by the Student Activities Office as Category 1 or 2, which means they cannot apply for funding, Schell said.

“A lot of social justice groups are related to the campus climate … and might change next year, so they are left really unsupported,” she added. “We don’t want to deter those groups from doing work right now.”

The fund recognizes that “students are the ones with the experience on this campus and (who) have to go through the process,” Sternberg Lamb said. “It goes back to the students and survivors’ hands.”

Applications to receive funding will be accepted for review until Feb. 13.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that two graduate students serve on the committee that decides how to allocate the fund. In fact, one graduate student serves on the committee. The Herald regrets the error.

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