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The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Student Activities Assistance Fund helps with club participation but leaves some students in need

Illustration by Meher Yeda
This year, the SOA office has received more than 750 requests for SAAF, more than in previous years, according to SOA Associate Director Joe Lattal.

Every year, Northwestern students can apply to the Student Activities Assistance Fund to help finance their participation in hundreds of clubs and organizations, including fraternities, sororities and club sports teams.

SAAF, established in 2012 as the Student Activities Scholarship Fund, is a supplemental grant to support undergraduate students who want to participate in programs and events organized by their registered groups. The Student Organization and Activities office, responsible for managing the annual operating budget of the fund, processes hundreds of student applications per year for a diverse range of needs.

For all student organizations, the maximum stipend amount per academic year is $750 per student.

So far this school year, the SOA has received more than 750 requests, more than in previous years. At the end of Fall Quarter, staff transitions in the office led to delayed responses to some applications, according to Joe Lattal, SOA’s associate director.

The SAAF review process takes into consideration each applicant’s demonstrated financial need. Lattal said the office offers “limited support” for students with moderate levels of financial need and zero funding to those who don’t receive any financial assistance.

Weinberg sophomore and Associated Student Government co-president-elect Caleb Snead serves as ASG’s chair of student activity finances. He said the SAAF review process may unfairly impact middle-income students seeking financial assistance.

“It impacts the middle income kids hard because it’s assumed they have more financial support from their families than they actually do,” Snead said.

Members of Ballet Folklórico NU, a traditional Mexican dance group on campus, regularly apply for SAAF to cover the $80 cost of the leather shoes, called botines, that they wear while performing. About 25 members annually order new pairs of shoes, with all eligible members receiving full reimbursements from SAAF in the last two years.

Weinberg sophomore and the Ballet Folklórico’s marketing chair Benjamin Martinez said many members of Ballet Folklórico NU come from low-income families and are first-generation students for whom the program has provided a helping hand.

“I know ($80) is quite an expense for a Northwestern student,” he said “Not everybody has such a budget, and we highly encourage every member to apply to SAAF.”

Students on the NU Crew team have also applied for SAAF to cover their dues. Participation in the club rowing team requires a fee of $2,035 for varsity rowers, one of the highest dues for any club sport on campus. The expense covers everything from tournament and maintenance fees to vehicle fuel for trips.

With SAAF, applicants on the crew team are eligible to receive up to $750 to cover their due fees, leaving more than $1,000 for students to pay out of pocket. Eight members have received the maximum stipend this year, with a dozen others receiving partial. The crew team also offers an in-team scholarship that members can apply to cover remaining dues costs.

“If there was an ideal situation … and they were able to allocate a bit more money towards club rowing and helping cover the due fees for our rowers, I’d be really thankful for that,” said Weinberg sophomore and the NU Crew’s treasurer, Magnus Fischer. “But I think they do a really good job.”

The Dolphin Show, which involved about 180 students to organize the production of Kinky Boots in January, also operated in conjunction with SAAF.

Members of the production company received a grant from SAAF to subsidize a certain number of student tickets, which each cost $10.

“It’s been such a good opportunity for people to see the show and increase our audience members and really allow Dolphin to reach its goal and mission of being an accessible, exciting community show that brings people together,” said producer and Weinberg senior Daniel Maton.

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