UT SG and Senate make $20,000 donation to Student Emergency Fund

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government and the Senate of College Councils announced Tuesday they made a $20,000 donation to the Student Emergency Fund. 

The Student Emergency Fund provides relief to students in special situations, including one-time utility payments, medications, books and replacing belongings, according to the Office of the Dean of Students website. Sara Kennedy, director of strategic and executive communications for the Office of the Dean of Students, said the fund typically donates between $25 and $300 to individuals. 

Kennedy said the emergency fund distributed $3 million to students during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the spring. She said to be currently eligible for the fund, students must be enrolled in at least one credit hour for the summer semester.

“The donation really helps, and it really helped right now coming into the summer because of how much was spent in the spring semester,” Kennedy said. “We offered support that we had never been able to offer before, in ways we had never been able to offer before, and it really put us in a tight situation.”

SG donated $12,000 through rearranging their budget and from events and rollover from the spring semester. Senate also donated $8,000 from leftover spring semester funds. 

SG received about $196,005 from the University for the 2019-20 academic year, which was then distributed to internal agencies and student organizations, according to previous reporting by The Daily Texan. Student body president Anagha Kikkeri said SG tried to find places in their budget for donations without taking money from other student organizations.  

Government senior Kikkeri said SG wanted to support the fund because the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act did not provide aid for undocumented or international students who may need assistance, although it did provide relief for some students in the spring. 

“It was really important for us, the Student Government, even if we couldn't directly give the money to students, for us to be able to give it to a fund that all students regardless of background or status could access,” Kikkeri said. “That's why it was very intentionally picked.”

Kennedy said students must fill out a form explaining why they need funds from Student Emergency Services and are then connected with case managers to understand their specific situations. After students receive their funds, they are required to provide documentation showing the money was used for the needs they listed on their forms. 

Kennedy said those who received funds from the CARES Act will not be eligible for the Student Emergency Fund during the summer, but will be eligible again in fall. Kennedy said the CARES Act provided larger sums than the emergency fund did in the spring.

Senate president Alcess Nonot, a human development and family science senior, said she hopes the Student Emergency Fund continues donating with less eligibility restrictions in the fall semester.

“In this age of coronavirus, I know a lot of students have been laid off,” said Isaac James, senate vice president and Plan II and government junior. “A lot of them have had trouble (with) families being laid off or having to spend extra time being caretakers for families. I think just having money to spend on books to spend on food to spend on bills, I think (helps). Anything helps in this crazy time.”