Former CSG initiative develops into scholarship

Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 4:18pm

The Leadership Engagement Scholarship, approved in January by Central Student Government and designed to provide assistance to students who wish to become more involved on campus but may not have the financial means to do so, continues in its fundraising process despite no longer being a CSG initiative. The fundraising is led by LSA senior Micah Griggs, former CSG vice president, and Business junior Arathi Sabada, former CSG chief operating officer.

At the beginning of their terms as CSG President and Vice President in 2016, David Schafer and Griggs, respectively, administered a demographic report to members of CSG, and found the results to be economically homogenous— 75 percent of the student governing body comes from homes earning over $100,000 a year. This report was one of several that made the CSG administration aware of how the University, specifically regarding students in leadership positions, lacks financial diversity.

When CSG passed a resolution that would require a $5 student membership fee each semester in order to provide funds for the scholarship Leadership Engagement Scholarship, Joe Shea, former CSG communications director, expressed his support for the resolution.

“The idea behind this resolution is one of solidarity,” Shea said in January. “As students, we understand how expensive it is just to go here … I try to remember that for some people at this university, it is simply not possible, and that is where something like the Leadership Engagement Scholarship comes into play.”

This $5 fee faced some backlash, however, as several students and administrators felt it was contradictory to the scholarship’s purpose. When the resolution was originally introduced, Andy Snow, former Rackham student representative, articulated his displeasure with the idea of a student fee.

“At the end of the day, I don’t care that it’s generally going to help students who need money — I see the student fee as basically a regressive tax for students the most, in general, and I do find it massively, massively insulting that we just act like financial aid covers it,” Snow said in January. “People take out loans and pay, not only that fee, but finally pay back quite a bit when they finally get the money to do it, so without reducing where people pay, I will not be able to support this.”

Those organizing the scholarship hope to have its funds available by the fall of 2018. These funds, however, will no longer come from the student fee. Griggs stated while this method has been discontinued, fundraising and advocacy events will continue to be utilized to raise both the monies and advocacy.

“In the past we’ve done fundraising on campus," she said. "We participated in Giving Blue Day and that was really successful, and we’ve also done fundraising and received donations from alumni, students, people who were heavily involved in student organizations on campus while they were students here. We use a plethora of channels to increase funding for the scholarship.”

As an endowed scholarship, one with large contributions and a permanent establishment, Griggs foresees a long future of success in helping students achieve their goals through leadership and campus involvement. She also thinks having students at the forefront of the scholarship, specifically by spreading the word and helping to organize fundraising, the scholarship will be one that will continue to provide assistance for those who need it most.

At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, and at the end of Schafer and Griggs’ terms as CSG President and Vice President, Schafer, in an interview with the Daily, spoke of his pride in the initiative and his optimism that its success will continue to affect students in a positive way. 

“For me, the leadership engagement scholarship is without a doubt the proudest thing I think we were able to accomplish this year,” Schafer said. “We’ve raised more than $180,000 over the course of this year alone.”