Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) President Asad Jalib has heard plenty of stories over the past year of students struggling financially as they try to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an academic year unlike any other, the students’ union has pivoted to ensure it is meeting the needs of its students.
Now, BUSU is helping current students by contributing $100,000 to the Brock University Undergraduate Student Emergency Bursary, which launched in April 2020 and allows students in financial need to apply online for a $500 one-time bursary. The funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“We want to do things that will be beneficial to our students this year, while still thinking about future students,” said Jalib. “We knew this year we had to have a strategy. Foundationally, we thought ‘if you’re putting your fees in for this year, it should be a value for you this year.’
“There are a lot of people who say this will go a long way,” he said.
Highlighted by the Big Ticket Concert, Welcome Week each September is typically a significant financial investment made by BUSU to give incoming students a proper introduction to university life.
While there was still an online Welcome Week concert and other events, the savings over a traditional week of activities has allowed BUSU to support students in other ways.
“We reduced expenses where we thought those activities were of lesser value for students and decided to put more resources into the hands of students where we knew it would help them,” Jalib said. “It’s all about figuring out where the funds should go to impact students in the most positive way.”
Both BUSU and the Graduate Students’ Association took steps last summer to lower student fees for this year, collectively savings students more than $4 million.
Last month, BUSU contributed $160,000 towards Brock’s Student Mental Health Fund, helping the University meet a $250,000 mental health fundraising goal.
“We saved where we could so we could invest where we needed to, like mental health,” said Jalib. “I’m incredibly proud of our team.”