Access to money, especially by college students, is rarely able to match the lofty ideas people may have. The Special Projects and Initiative Fund launched on Jan. 3 by SGA attempts to bring access of funding to students across campus.
The SPIF seeks to provide funding for student ideas that are “of audacious vision and scope… foster a unique educational experience for the student body, have a long-term impact at the institutional level, and/or [increase] the visibility of Concordia College within the wider community of institutions of higher learning,” according to SGA’s SPIF description on Concordia’s Web site.
The SPIF has vague criteria, but that vagueness is intentional, according to Student Involvement Council chair Brita Shoemaker. SIC helped set the guidelines and create the application process last semester.
“We didn’t want to put any limitations on the ideas of the students,” Shoemaker said. “There are just so many different possibilities of students using this money.”
The SPIF is funded from allocated but unspent student activity fee money. Currently, it holds over $100,000, with a large portion of the money coming from the money designated for the Cobber yearbook when the yearbook was not being printed, according to George.
At the end of every academic year, there is unspent SAF money for a variety of reasons, according to Nathalie Rinehardt, the assistant director of student leadership and service. For example, when CEC hosts Cornstock inside instead of outside, they save about $5,000, Rinehardt said. Because Cornstock is usually the last weekend in April and the fiscal year ends April 30, CEC does not spend the allocated $5,000 in a week. The money now ends up in the SPIF for students and organizations to access.
The money accessible to student organizations through the SIC has not decreased as a result of the creation of the SPIF, Rinehardt said. Contrarily, previous over-budgeting and the removal of the Cobber’s funding have increased the money available to SIC and student organizations, according to the 2011-2012 Student Activity Fee Proposal.
“In the past, only student organizations have been able to request [money],” Shoemaker said, “and this gives the opportunity for a student anywhere on campus to come up with an idea.”
Students could bring in a speaker or go to an educational conference and present to the Concordia community, among countless other options.
One request that is moving forward asks for new chairs in the library. While the chairs are not a large, institutional priority, they significantly affect current and future students, Shoemaker said. The students want to replace the chairs that have been in the library since the 1960s, she said.
Another project receiving funds is Djembe, a multicultural journal produced by students that is in the process of becoming an official Concordia publication. While Djembe seeks to be a primarily online journal, last year it published 200 copies to maintain a physical presence on campus, according to Jenni Amis, the chief editor. Because the group is not yet a student organization, it cannot apply for student organization money. George suggested that Djembe apply for SPIF funding to help with this year’s financial burden.
“SPIF is a very helpful resource, and students and organizations with ideas should take advantage of it,” said Fafa Yakor, a senior and production coordinator for Djembe.
Concordia used to have a SPIF, under a different name, to provide access to otherwise sequestered and unusable funds, according to Rinehardt. The fund eventually ran out, however, as the current SPIF is projected to do as well.
“I would invite [frustrated students] to engage in dialogue with the Student Government Association and their class representatives,” Rinehardt said. “One of SGA’s major platform goals is to communicate with the student body, and there are lots of mechanisms through which students can do that.”
Since the SPIF’s launch on Jan. 3, SGA has received at least four requests. The applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. To submit an idea for SPIF funding, visit www.cord.edu/Studentlife/SGA/SPIF.php.
I am a senior majoring in political science and journalism, and I am minoring in music. Next year, I will study law at the University of St. Thomas, and I can’t believe my time at Concordia has gone so quickly.