Senate relaunches Capen Street Emergency Fund
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:04
The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate will this fall re-launch the Capen Street Emergency Fund, an initiative that aims to provide Tufts students with a resource to help them obtain funding when confronted with emergency situations.
The fund was initially founded by Tufts alumni Larry Brown (LA ’85), Bill Friend (LA ’85) and actor Hank Azaria (LA ’85) who collectively donated $50,000 in 2005 with the aim of providing students living off campus with payouts of up to $500 in cases of fire or flood.
The new iteration of the Capen Street Emergency Fund will provide funding through $300 payouts, typically in the form of reimbursements, to students who find themselves unexpectedly in need of money that they were unable to previously budget for, such as in cases of having to fly to a funeral, according to TCU Treasurer Christie Maciejewski, a sophomore.
“We’re using it as the exogenous shock funds — a lot of people do need help with textbooks, but this fund is specifically for the exogenous shocks,” Maciejewski said. “You come to college knowing you have to buy textbooks, but you don’t come to college knowing you’ll have to fly home for a funeral.”
Maciejewski explained that the fund will be accessible to all students regardless of financial aid status but stipulated that applicants will have to provide adequate documentation in order to verify their need for the funding. Although the Senate has not delineated the exact procedure that this verification will involve, TCU President Wyatt Cadley said the body would spend the summer formulating a more precise description of both the logistics and the legitimate uses of the fund.
“We’ll be working over the summer to finalize the plans, although we did agree that it doesn’t matter that you’re on financial aid —
I think you’ll probably have to prove your need through a bank statement,” Maciejewski said. “It is tricky to determine whether people really need the money, and that is a very personal issue, but we’re definitely going to figure it out soon.”
The original fund has been left virtually untouched in the seven years since its inception because of a lack of reported need from students, according to Maciejewski.
“No one has been helped by it yet, so the university was kind of getting upset, too, because this $50,000 was sitting there and not being put to any use,” Maciejewski said.
The funding for the re-launched fund includes a sizeable donation from Board of Trustees Chair James Stern (E ’72), who last year pledged $10,000 to the TCU following the cancellation of the Naked Quad Run in order to fund WinterFest. Upon examining the budget, the Senate determined that it had a surplus and could adequately finance WinterFest without Stern’s pledge, according to Maciejewski.
The Senate decided to reallocate the funds that Stern donated to the reactivation of the Capen Street Emergency Fund and to reconfigure its purpose to ensure that the money would be used, according to Maciejewski. She added that the Senate contacted the donors in order to ensure that they felt the new goals of the fund complied with their initial vision for the money and obtained their approval.
“We think this is the best first step we could have taken because it opens up $60,000 and allows students to access it at this time,” Maciejewski said.
Then-TCU Senate Vice President Cadley told the Daily in an email that the Senate’s decision to revitalize the Capen Fund as an exogenous shock fund stemmed from a collective desire to mitigate the financial burden of students on the Hill.
“We chose to invest in the Capen Fund because we, as student government leaders, wanted to demonstrate how serious we are about financial aid at Tufts,” Cadley said. “There is only so much students can do to say that they care about financial aid, and we thought that this would be both a way to do some tangible good and also show the administration where our priorities lie.”
Cadley cautioned that the future development of the fund is contingent on the number of students who take advantage of it.
“We want to see how much students use the fund before making any concrete decision on where we want to move in the future,” he said.