If there is one thing every UNC student should be encouraged to do during their college experience, it is explore. Whether it be in the classroom, in the lab or abroad, college is an ideal time to discover new ideas, develop new talents and broaden your world view. Thanks to the generosity of two student leaders, funding those discoveries just got a little bit easier.
The new $5,000 Student Enrichment Fund is now live and will provide small grants of between $200 and $400 to cash-strapped students interested in expanding their horizons this year, provided they are willing to share the experience with their fellow students.
But the long-term future of the fund remains in question.
Currently, the vast majority of funding comes from the pooling of Student Body President Mary Cooper and Student Body Vice President Zealan Hoover’s stipends. While generous, the next administration cannot be expected to follow in their footsteps. If the fund is to be live beyond her term, Cooper must work quickly to secure funding beyond her stipend.
To solve this problem, her administration will seek a grant of $10,000 from the Parents Council to cover the cost of the program next year. While not a bad decision, Cooper should focus on identifying new funding sources that are not already being used to fund other student initiatives.
Hoover’s suggestion that they solicit small donations from University departments and alumni either directly or through a new crowd-funding platform being developed by the student group Carolina Creates is a good one and should be pursued.
While funding is critical to the sustainability of the program, Cooper and Hoover’s decision to donate their stipends provides the fund time to prove itself while allowing students to see results now.
With a Nov. 1 deadline and applications already available, Student Body Secretary Adam Jutha will have to work hard to educate students about the fund in time. But thankfully for students who may feel pressured to meet this deadline, Hoover said roughly 10 grants will be awarded throughout the year.
While it will be months before it is known if the fund is a success or failure, it appears that Cooper’s administration is taking the right first steps.
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