Longhorns support fellow students at event for emergency fund

Molly Moore

Students dug in their pockets to help support the Student Emergency Fund at the first-ever Spring into Giving campaign.

Students Hooked on Texas, a group devoted to community service and fundraising for UT, sponsored the full-day event on Gregory Plaza on Wednesday to raise money for the Student Emergency Fund. The cause brought together student volunteers from several University colleges and
philanthropic societies.

The fund helps students stay on track academically in times of crisis, said Christa Lopez, the coordinator of Student Emergency Services in the Office of the Dean of Students, which sponsors the fund.

“We help students sustain their progress at UT,” Lopez said. “Sometimes, without these funds, the students would have to leave the University, delaying their education a semester or a year. We help them make it to their graduation on time.”

The Student Emergency Fund, which started 10 years ago, is available to any UT student facing a “temporary financial hardship resulting from an emergency situation,” according to the Dean of Students website, which is also where students apply for aid. On average, amounts given range from $25-$150 and have previously helped students pay for hardships, including medical tests and treatments and plane tickets to attend an immediate family member’s funeral.

Party on the Plaza, the Hearts of Texas, Texas Parents, in addition to yesterday’s event, provide most of the donations to the fund, but anyone can contribute by going to the Dean of Students website. All of the money raised goes toward students who apply for financial help.

“There’s such a direct, immediate benefit with the Emergency Fund, as every dollar raised goes to help someone experiencing a personal crisis,” said Julie Lucas, the assistant director of Students Hooked on Texas.

For this year’s Spring into Giving campaign, a group of five alumni have pledged to match student donations dollar-for-dollar by each donating up to $5,000, Lucas said. They will renew this pledge annually for the next four years. Lucas said they won’t know the total amount raised this year until Friday.

“[With $3,000-$4,000 currently in the fund] and the 50,000 students at UT, we obviously can’t help everyone,” Lopez said. “So for students that may be OK financially, we encourage them to give back to their friend who needs a little help or their classmate who is homeless and living on the street. Even if someone doesn’t think that giving a dollar will help, that dollar becomes two. And you never know who or how you are helping."

Students interested in applying for a grant from the Emergency Fund can find the application on the Office of the Dean of Students website. The application must be accompanied by sufficient documentation of financial hardship.

“In times of crisis, it’s already so stressful, and to know that there is some backup from the University takes some of that pressure off,” said applied learning and development freshman Sumayya Pirbhai, who volunteered at the event.