The Georgetown University Student Association Fund, a $15,000 fund intended as last-resort funding for student groups, is looking to grow its budget and shift its focus to be an initial funding source for club events and activities this year.
The fund is allocated annually by the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee’s student activities budget, which appropriates funds from the student activities fee to student groups. Clubs and groups seeking event funding are able to submit applications, which are then reviewed by a five-person discretionary committee that determines the distribution of funds.
The committee plans to grow the fund’s budget from its current $15,000, according to GUSA Fund Director of Public Relations Olivia Horton (COL ’20).
“We’re having to watch the budget pretty closely, but the goal is that eventually we will be allocated more money,” Horton said.
GUSA Fund Treasurer David Seo (COL ’20) said the committee hopes that increased requests will lead to an increase in funding. The fund would need to receive a larger portion of student activities fees in order for growth to occur, according to Seo.
“Our main goal in growing the fund is to increase awareness of GUSA Fund and its role in fostering student-run events and activities that benefit the Georgetown community,” Seo said.
Though the fund has only been active for about four weeks this academic year, it has already sponsored 10 different events on campus. The fund projects to fund about 40 events this year.
In the past, the GUSA Fund has been known as a source of “last resort funding,” according to its website homepage. Typically, representatives from student organizations apply for funding for their events only during financial strain on a particular event.
Horton said the committee is actively trying to change the nature of the fund.
“One of our goals this year is to make GUSA Fund more of a primary source, so people are coming to us first instead of as a last resort,” Horton said. “Mostly we’re working on getting our name out there and rebranding.”
This rebranding includes partnering directly with more on-campus clubs to sponsor a higher number of annual and recurring events, as well as a greater emphasis on marketing and name recognition.
The fund board members said they are committed to encouraging campus dialogue and supporting programs that highlight social justice issues.
GUSA Fund Chair Aaron Bennett (COL ’19) said spotlighting social justice issues has become the primary focus of the organization.
“This mission that we’ve sort of coalesced around is the idea that we want to shape campus dialogue in ways that promote political justice or social justice and really be a force for good,” Bennett said.
When determining whether an event receives sponsorship, the fund committee looks at factors including accessibility, purpose, need and uniqueness. The committee looks to ensure that they are promoting worthwhile events that have the potential to benefit a significant portion of the Georgetown community, according to Bennett.
“We want to make sure that we’re funding programs that can benefit the entire Georgetown community,” Bennett said. “Is this something that can help everyone, that GUSA can put its name on?”
The GUSA Fund helped sponsor a Lecture Fund event with author and poet Rupi Kaur on Oct. 18. Though the Lecture Fund receives funding from Fin/App, it still required additional support to successfully host the event.
“We felt that it was a need that we could fill and a need that we should fill,” Bennett said. “A lot of organizations could do more with just a little extra money. We want to incentivize them to go for that better program and contribute to the new dialogue on campus.”
The GUSA Fund has supported other organizations, including La Casa Latina, which received money from the fund to purchase food for its members in an event celebrating the dedication of the group
Casa Latina Financial Operations Coordinator Ximena Céspedes (SFS ’19) said receiving funding from GUSA helped establish the group’s relationship with GUSA.
“Having received their help for our event meant a lot to us, as it meant that our community, one that has fought long and hard for our place here on campus, was accepted and supported by GUSA and all the student representatives that comprise it,” Céspedes said.
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