ASU Grant program garners requests

Finance Committee reviews applications for executive vote

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

The Associated Student Union received 19 Grant for Support applications from various clubs and departments on campus that submitted the paperwork before the Oct. 16 deadline.
For the first time since 2013 spring semester, the Grant for Support is offering up to 10 applicants additional funding of up to $2,500 for campus events or purchases that will benefit a large percentage of Contra Costa College students.
ASU Vice President of Club Affairs and Internal Finance Committee member Safi Ward-Davis said all the applicants combined are asking for a total of $39,678.
A $5 student activity fee and a $1 representation fee that students are charged at the beginning of each semester, unless students waive the cost by filling out an application at the Admissions and Records Office, funds the Grant for Support program.
“We need everyone to realize that this is student activity fee money,” Ward-Davis said. “The ASU will only review reasonable requests, and even then we may approve or deny — but we will make sure the process is clear on both ends.”
ASU Internal Finance Committee Chairperson Jun Chen said applications are to be reviewed and presented to the ASU board by the order in which suits the timeline’s of each applicant’s event or purchase — not by time of submittal.
“The Finance Committee will look at applicant requests and give recommendations,” Chen said. “But the final verdict if they get the money or not is up to the (ASU) board as a whole — the Finance Committee cannot make a decision.”
The Finance Committee is comprised of Ward-Davis, Chen and interim Dean of Students Administrative Assistant and ASU Director of Training and Recruitment Luanna Waters.
“The process is not as lengthy as it seems,” Ward-Davis said.
The ASU presently has nine members after adding senators Elijiah Fisher and Francis Sanson, who completed their four weeks of petitioning. Five members hold executive positions.
The ASU meets weekly on Wednesdays in LA-204 at 2:15 p.m., but Student Life Coordinator Erica Greene said today’s meeting is canceled because its senators will be busy organizing the ASU’s biannual Club Rush and annual Fall Festival campus events.
Ward-Davis said if the request makes it out of the Finance Committee, further departments and clubs are to be contacted to present their reasons for funding to the ASU Board from Nov. 4 to Dec. 16.
Chen said the first applicants who will present their cases to the board have been invited to next week’s ASU meeting, which is open to the public.
Ward-Davis said the board will only be listening to different clubs’ and departments’ requests and answer any of the board’s questions, but it will not make a decision until its following meeting.
“Because of the new process, the Finance Committee will contact the applicants within 10 days of the decision,” she said. “We do not want to rush through the process. (The ASU board) has to be meticulous and meet the finance code.”
Greene said she sent out emails to clubs and departments that submitted applications with questions that they should expect to answer when they present their reasons for funding in front of the ASU board.
Ward-Davis said nine of the applicants asked for the full amount of funding, but as of press time Tuesday the Finance Committee has so far reached out to seven applicants with upcoming events after it reviewed requests.
Greene said, “If you ask for the full $2,500 it does not mean that you are guaranteed to get that much. Any applicant has to bring proof that the ASU is not the first place they came to ask for more funding.”
Ward-Davis agrees with Greene when she said because the money comes from students, applying for the Grant for Support should be a program, club or department’s “last option” after fundraising and using institutional funds.
Chen said the departments and clubs that the Finance Committee has reached out to via email include tutoring, human services, library and research, law academy, Community Organizing Political Action club (COPA), the Per Ankh academy and veterans counseling.
“We got a lot of requests for events or purchases for the spring semester,” she said. “To these (clubs and departments) we will send out an email inviting them to reapply for the grant for support for the spring semester.”

Vying for funds
Ward-Davis said unlike the last time the ASU oversaw the Grant for Support program, it has received applications from a variety of people on campus.
“We reached across campus like we intended,” she said, “not just certain departments.
“Last year (the Grant for Support) was not open because former (ASU) president Antone (Agnitsch) wanted to re-word the applications because certain departments were utilizing the funds and the rest were unclear with the process.”
She said the budget this year is $10,000 less than what was offered the last time the ASU had the Grant for Support operational.
Chen said most of the applicants who are asking for money are seeking to pay for costs that are not covered by equity funds that are provided by the college.
“(Clubs and departments) hosting events need money to pay for food and drinks, gas cards or any other incentives that attract students,” she said.
The counseling department put in an application to pay for food for its “pop up” tutoring, office assistant Jordan Miller said.
“(Pop up tutoring) happens once a month at different locations on campus for students to get free tutoring without having to sign up,” Miller said. “We want to also provide free food and games with prizes, but it is not covered by our budget.
“We want to get students interested in the resources that are available to help them with their classes.”
Retention specialist Tracy Nunley said it would help attract more students if they see that there is free food and contests from 1 to 3 p.m.
Other requests, like drama professor Linda Jackson’s, are not seeking Grant for Support funding for food but for purchases like stage props and costumes for an upcoming play that are not covered by institutional costs because it is a class project.
Jackson said after speaking with the administration at Helms Middle School, they have agreed to bring 300 students to the Knox Center for a “Katrina Project, Hell and High Water” play that her Drama 230 class is putting together.
“We want to get donations to send to an agency that helps the rebuilding of New Orleans, post- Hurricane Katrina,” Jackson said. “It is not a subject of study in history class and is a period of time that we should not forget because thousands of lives were changed.”
Music department programs Jazzanova and Jazzology have also put in an application for the Grant for Support to help fund a trip to attend a Jazzfest at Cuesta College for Nov. 5 and 6.
Music major Laurena Alm and Joseph Saeteurn said it is difficult for the 20 students in the program to afford the $500 cost of registration to attend the statewide conference.
“Last year a lot of us were close to not being able to go because we could not meet the cost,” Alm said. “Some students fundraised and others asked for donations at church or from family members — it was a lot of work.”
Another request that is being reviewed is the Library and Learning Resource Center’s books on reserve that are limited to only one copy and are being damaged because students cannot afford to pay for print cards.
“Students here have no budget to buy books and ask me for 12 cents to print out a scan of the page,” Library and Resource Circulation Desk Secretary Tadelech Yoseph said. “Sometimes when I do not have extra print cards, and they cannot afford it, students rip out the pages.”
Yoseph said the Library is asking for the full amount to purchase $100 worth of extra print cards and buy two more copies of expensive and necessary textbooks to be kept on reserve.
Culinary arts professor Nader Sharkes applied for two Grants for Support to pay for materials and uniforms for students.
“Our students resorted to financial aid, but because their checks have not arrived yet they (are short money),” Sharkes said.
He said each of these students has to pay about $500 for a knife kit, trousers, jacket and aprons, and the textbook.
Chen said applications will continue to be reviewed into December, but the Grant for Support has to benefit a “large pool of students.”