Jack P. Carroll ’24
On Sunday, Nov. 15, the Student Government Association (SGA) convened in an online meeting via Zoom to discuss the student move out plan for the fall semester.
In a conversation with Dean of Student Life and Director of The Bantam Network Jody Goodman and Director of Housing Operations Susan Salisbury, it was confirmed that students will not be charged any additional fees to remain on campus in the winter after the fall semester ends. This policy would also apply to students living in off-campus housing as well.
Those in attendance also raised concerns regarding the total dollar amount of the stipend provided to students choosing to stay on campus. After confirming that the College would be providing these students with a biweekly stipend of $140, several SGA members recommended that it be increased by $3-$4 when highlighting the costs associated with food on campus.
When expressing support for an increase in the winter stipend, SGA Senator Felicia McDevitt ’21 noted that the $140 breaks down to $10 a day for three meals–which cost just above $3 per meal. McDevitt further noted that, in comparison with the stipend, single meals typically cost $5.75 flat across campus—amounting to $17.25 for three meals per day per student.
Goodman notified students in the meeting that the last meal in Mather will be served on Friday, Nov. 20 and that the college plans to provide the stipends to students staying on campus the following week. She also noted that gift cards will be provided to students in the event that there are any delays in the distribution of the stipends.
In light of concerns related to the further spread and contraction of COVID-19 on campus over the course of the winter, Goodman noted that the college will be “consolidating” student housing due to the low availability of maintenance staff. Goodman suggested that the close grouping of students would enable those cleaning the campus, such as the ABM, to clean a smaller “cluster” as opposed to the entire campus.
When discussing available funding for students to access over the course of the upcoming winter, SGA Vice President of Finance Camille Valentincic ’22 reported that the COVID-19 Relief Fund does not currently have any money. After the account was created by the SGA last spring using extra funding that was not spent from the Students Activities Fees (SAF), Valentincic noted that all of its funds were fully utilized by the student body.
Valentincic notified the SGA of the Budget Committee’s plans to allocate funding for the COVID-19 Relief fund by the end of the semester. This money can be used by all students—regardless if they are staying on campus or returning home—to pay for food, Wi-Fi, and any other items and necessities that students may need amidst the pandemic. Also, students are not required to pay back any of the money that they take out from the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Goodman noted that the Student Emergency Fund is another source of funding that is available to students. This fund provides students with loans and grant money from a number of departments including Spiritual and Religious Life, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OLMA), and several other offices. The Health Center also has money reserved for the Student Emergency Fund to help students cover any medical costs. Goodman also explained that for students who are unable to pay back the costs of a loan from the Student Emergency Fund, the money would then effectively become “grant funding” for them.
Money from both the COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Student Emergency Fund can be requested via the Student Emergency Fund application.
Valentincic and Goodman reassured students that all applications for emergency funding are kept confidential. The applications are only received by a small committee of staff members, of which Goodman is a part. The SGA Budget Committee receives no information on who or how the money is spent from either of these accounts.