The four undergraduate student councils plan to distribute $15,000 in Capital Investment grants to seven different student groups to “provide funding for large-scale, multi-year, investments for student groups,” according to a statement from the committee.
Winners included WBAR, WKCR, and the University’s kayak club, ski team, wind ensemble, rock climbing club, and Society of Automotive Engineers.
Daphne Chen, CC ’14 and vice president of finance for Columbia College Student Council, said the grants were intended for groups to make essential purchases for which they would otherwise have trouble saving over the long term.
The largest grant—$4,800—went to the wind ensemble to help pay for a tuba. The group’s president, Alex Donnelly, CC ’14, said that it would have been difficult for the wind ensemble to pay for the instrument without the grant.
“We really rely on fundraising from advertising and ticket sales,” Donnelly said. “And when you rely on those secondary sources of income, it’s hard to budget for long-term investments.”
He noted, however, that the grant would not cover the full cost of the tuba. Chen said that the committee had to make a choice between funding a wide range of projects or giving certain groups larger amounts of money.
“It was a hard philosophical discussion, because on one hand, you wanted to support as many groups as you can with this amount of money,” Chen said. “But on the other hand, you wonder, should we fund all of this money to one group to make a really big impact?”
The committee said on Thursday that it selected applicants who had the most pressing needs.
Uchechi Iteogu, CC ’15 and chair of the committee, said that 14 student groups applied for the grants.
Engineering Student Council Vice President of Finance Sidd Bhatt, SEAS ’14, explained that the committee had to make a choice of “necessity versus luxury.”
“Some groups do ask for funding where they would like it, and it would enhance their operations, but if they don’t get it, it’s not going to negatively impact their operations,” Bhatt said.
Ski team captain Peter Krawczyk, CC ’13, said his team had to start its season with outdated helmets because the grant winners were announced later than he had expected.
“The fact that it only came out this week was a little disappointing, especially for us, because we’re in the middle of our season,” Krawczyk said.
Iteogu said the committee itself made its decisions on time at the end of last semester and that it was not responsible for actually allocating the funds.
“We made sure to make decisions by the end of the semester,” Iteogu said. “It’s a matter of the powers that be distributing the money.”
She added, however, that the committee “should have communicated that better to the student groups.”
Iteogu said that the committee did its best to help applicants who didn’t receive funding for their proposals through other channels like the Joint Council Co-Sponsorship Committee, which also provides funding to student groups.
“I think we were able to help everybody out that we could have helped out,” Iteogu said. “That’s not to say that each group that came to us was able to receive funding, unfortunately, but we didn’t just leave them in the dark.”
By identifying a specific project to fund, the Capital Investment grants differ from other forms of fundraising for student groups, including the Student Project Grants—which provide funding to students looking to launch a specific short-term project or event—and governing board allocations, which are provided to groups at the end of the academic year.