Two years ago, TRU’s Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund (CUEF) underwent some major changes. While before the system was formerly under the control of a steering committee who answered directly to the university, all grant funding is now divided up amongst three bodies: TRUSU, the university senate budgeting committee and the undergraduate research program.
Despite the funding being split up between parties, the money available to fund student activities has actually tripled since the dissolution of CUEF.
However, TRUSU communications manager Natalie Reisle admits that making students aware of all the extra funding available has been a challenge.
“One thing we’ve noticed is that with the amount of money available to students tripling, from moving to CUEF to TRUSU grants, is that it’s been a bit of a challenge in the first few years getting students aware of these things in order to get in those applications,” Reisle said.
There is more than $200,000 in funding available to students across TRUSU Grants’ five categories (conferences, general events, educational events, guest lectures and community), and Reisle said the student union has received more grant applications this year than the previous.
“We’re definitely closer to being on track to full build-out than we ever have been before,” she said. “I think we’ll continue to see those grant applications come in and obviously we want more and more students to be applying all the time.”
Part of what makes using all the available funding within a year difficult is TRUSU Grants’ cumulative nature. All of the money that goes unused at the end of April is rolled into the next year’s funding.
At the start of this September, $284,000 was available to students. Though the roughly $80,000 already used seems small in comparison to the amount of funding available, TRUSU president Tatiana Gilbert said this year’s money is only for students, and not funding other TRUSU initiatives.
“Everything – all the grants that are put aside for students – that money will keep rolling back,” Gilbert said. “Under any circumstance, I can’t see the board choosing to take that money away from students.”
If the funding continues to accumulate year after year, Reisle notes that TRUSU’s board of directors may decide to spend the surplus elsewhere. But this year, TRUSU is more concerned about making sure students are aware that funding is available.
“We’ve been putting it out on Facebook and Twitter, we’ve done a number of ads in the campus newspaper, we also hosted a couple grant information sessions,” Reisle said. “We’re constantly looking for more ways to be able to advertise these opportunities for students.”
As a student, Gilbert understands the financial stress that many students at TRU face and believes programs like TRUSU Grants can help relieve some of the burden.
“The funds are available and I understand as a student myself, there are a lot of financial stresses and academic stresses,” Gilbert said. “The TRUSU grants program is able to bring that stress down so every student has the opportunity to go out and explore something that’s a little more than their day to day life.”