Students can now receive financial assistance to cover tickets to student-run events and food at off-campus conferences through the Event Assistance Fund, which the Undergraduate Finance Board launched as a pilot last spring.
UFB expects the fund to be particularly helpful for students who may have some level of family contribution to tuition but would be discouraged from attending events with ticket prices, UFB Chair Julian De Georgia ’20 said. “Anyone who feels that finances would be a barrier for you going to a student event is eligible to request funds, and we expect that to be a pretty self-selecting group of people.”
Events including lectures and performances on and off-campus are eligible for funding. Spring Weekend tickets are not covered, as the Brown Concert Agency has its own financial assistance program.
This year, each student may request up to $100 per semester from the $10,000 allocated for the program from the UFB-managed Student Activities Fund. The size of the Event Assistance Fund is a “very flexible number right now. The goal right now is to understand the need better,” De Georgia said. “That’s why we didn’t create a lot of regulations around what types of things students could request for or who could get funds.”
Students can apply for assistance through UFunds though the online application is currently closed for small updates to the form, De Georgia wrote in an email to The Herald.
Student Activities Office Financial Coordinator Mariam Han will review applications, confirm approved applications with the Bursar Office and provide eligible students with directions on how to access the fund, De Georgia said.
It is “important to provide accessibility to students who would like to attend an event/conference but may be limited by financial constraints. We agree that events should be accessible,” Director of Student Activities Joie Steele wrote in an email to The Herald.
During the 2016-17 school year, SAO rules prevented the Event Assistance Fund’s inception when the Undergraduate Council of Students first pursued its creation, De Georgia said. Those rules changed last year, allowing then-UFB Chair Lisa Schold ’19 and then-Vice Chair De Georgia to pick up where UCS left off. UFB met with Associate Dean for Financial Advising Vernicia Elie throughout the fall 2018 semester to create the fund and determine logistics, including the size of the fund and application management.
The financial aid fund went live at the start of the spring semester but was not used by students due to a lack of initial publicity, De Georgia said.“This semester, we’re trying to push this further to make sure that people who would need access to that kind of resource would actually be able to know about it and access the fund,” he added.
Hawai’i at Brown Co-Founder and President Leinani Roylo ’21 said she was not aware of the fund’s existence. “It would be nice to have these funds to go to events from other schools ... to meet other people from Hawai’i on the East Coast.”
For Brown Mock Trial, “one of the biggest issues we’ve faced over the past few years ... is that Mock Trial isn’t always financially accessible because we travel so often and because UFB has historically had a policy of not providing funding for food stipends,” said Sarah Shapiro ’20, Brown Mock Trial team captain and executive board member.
“We’ve been thinking about this issue for as long as I’ve been in the program,” said Shapiro, who has been on Mock Trial since her freshman year. “I think that there’s a huge need and I think that it’s a really good thing that UFB is doing this.”
While the fund is now largely under the purview of SAO, UFB will continue to meet monthly with Han to discuss the fund. UFB will update the amounts and criteria for the fund once they have a sense of needs and interest in order to make it as inclusive as possible, De Georgia said.