A recent allocation of student funds toward a community service trip for a select group of North Quad residents has many students upset. Members of the North Quadrangle Committee for International Impact may have had good intentions, but their decision to set aside $2,000 for a community service trip to Peru — involving mostly members of their committee — was a misuse of student funds. Community service in developing countries is an activity that should be encouraged, but there is a clear conflict of interest in this situation. Funding service trips for a small group of students is beyond the purview of a residence hall council.
According to a March 31 Daily article, the North Quad Committee on International Impact and the Residence Hall Association recently voted to spend more than $6,000 on a trip for 14 students to go to Peru this summer to help school children. Of the 14 going on the trip, nine are on the International Impact Committee. Of the 450 North Quad residents, all of whom contribute to the committee’s funds as a part of their room and board, only 14 will actively engage in community outreach as a result of this spending.
It is upsetting that thousands of dollars of community funds were allocated to help a few students. Members of the committee must recognize that their primary duty is to the residents of North Quad, who could have used the money for community building events and activities. A tangible goal could be to foster a climate of tolerance and diversity within the residence hall. And an international impact is possible without a trip to Peru. The committee could have used the money to jumpstart fundraising efforts for similar causes which could have involved more residents and raised greater awareness about internationally relevant issues.
There was a clear conflict of interest in this situation. Students on the committee have argued that it made sense for those organizing the trip to participate and that they would share their experiences with the rest of the residence hall through presentations. But it’s difficult to believe that the trip doesn’t benefit the participants disproportionately, since they receive the majority of the first hand experience. Perhaps the allocation would have been less controversial had nine of the 14 participants not been members of the council that voted to fund the trip.
Students should also be more involved in the activities of their residence hall. Building a vibrant community takes effort, but being a member of a thriving one can be an enriching experience. Residents should be aware of their hall council representatives’ actions and partake in discussions to make their voices heard so wiser decisions are made in the future.
The North Quadrangle Committee for International Impact should act responsibly and reallocate the money for a more fruitful cause. There are better activities that will fit the mission of the committee and allow more North Quad residents to participate.