SGA to donate $25000 to university for student emergency aid fund

The Student Government Association at St. Edward’s will be donating the money raised by their annual poster sales for over a decade to St. Edward’s University. This donation will lay the foundation of a new program designed to assist St. Edward’s students that are facing crises in their lives that could put their academic careers on hold.

The University Advancement Office at St. Edward’s has been working on the Hilltopper Emergency Aid Program for over a year. The program will serve as a developing fund that can be used to assist St. Edward’s students that have experienced an unexpected or unforeseen circumstance or expense that could become an obstacle in that student’s academic success.

These circumstances include, but are not limited to: funding for necessary supplies for students impacted by a natural disaster, health care or childcare expenses, travel expenses for those who’ve had a death in the family and rent or living expenses for those seeking to remove themselves from a hostile or otherwise unhealthy living situation.

In order for this program to take root, the Student Government Association proposed S.B. 09, a bill that would allow SGA to take out $25,000 from their secondary fund and use it to start an endowment fund for the Hilltopper Emergency Aid Program.

“This is a donation of $25,000 from the Student Government Association to establish the Hilltopper Emergency Aid Program at St. Edward’s University as an endowment that will be managed by the university,” said Joe DeMendeiros, Vice President of the University Advancement Office.

According to Joanna Ariola, the current president of SGA, the previous President and Vice President, Jamie Cardenas and Carlos Martinez, began the discussion of endowing the emergency fund two years ago.

“I wanted SGA to support the emergency fund in some way, I just wasn’t sure as to what extent, like what we could do, what was possible… The entire association was completely behind it from the second I mentioned it to any of them,” Ariola said.

Endowment funds are often used by universities to establish a sustainable resource that will last for generations. This means that the University Advancement Office takes this donation of $25,000, which is never spent, as an initial investment by SGA and uses it to generate capital, much like a savings account.

“This fund is what [SGA] have been saving. The purpose has always been to help students or fund a student event… It’s kind of like a rainy day secondary account,” Ariola said.

The Annual Giving Office at St. Edward’s has plans to start a campaign that will work toward sponsoring the emergency aid fund and challenge students, alumni and other donors to this campaign to match the $25,000 donation given by SGA. In three years, the emergency aid fund will have generated enough capital to begin distributing to cases of student emergencies.

“While this is a developing fund, any student that has an emergency now should seek help and support on our campus…we have resources right here, right now for our students,” Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Lisa Kirkpatrick said.

According to Kirkpatrick, the Red Door Manifesto, a piece written and published last year by student leaders on campus, identified a need that the President’s Advisory Council had already discerned and were seeking a solution to: Students have emergencies and it is the university’s responsibility to make sure they have access to resources that ensure their success.

Creating the Hilltopper Emergency Aid Program is a step toward tackling this issue and inspiring students to help each other in a way that leaves a lasting legacy that future St. Edward’s students can benefit from, according to Ariola.

“The magic on the hilltop starts with a ‘c’ and it’s community. This is all about helping people help each other,” Kirkpatrick said.