College Council creates special intergroup fund

The InterGroup Fund (IGF) was approved by College Council (CC) last week to provide funding for joint group-sponsored events, in an effort to encourage greater interaction between disparate groups. First conceived of by CC co-presidents Ami Parekh ’01 and Todd Rogers ’01 during their campaign last spring, the IGF now has become a reality.

According to Parekh and Rogers’ proposal, the fund was established to “build community and to foster appreciation for difference on campus by facilitating intergroup events, especially by groups that have not had much crossover membership.”

“During the course of our campaign last spring,” Parekh said, “Todd and I realized that social fragmentation was one of the major issues of student concern. Since one of the major tools of CC is funding we decided that we would try out the idea of an intergroup fund to see if students take advantage it and begin to develop ties with students that they didn’t have the opportunity to do so with in the past.”

The fund officially came into being last Wednesday when CC voted 24-2-2 to approve the proposal. The initial seed money for the fund is $2,000 – $1,000 from CC on top of $1,000 provided by the dean’s office.

As this article went to press, the Minority Coalition (MinCo) also was considering adding money into the fund. Parekh said that CC is also working on securing additional funding from the athletic department and the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC).

Since this idea is still in its infancy, Parekh and Rogers decided to include a contingency plan in case the fund does not work as expected. The test phase for the IGF will continue through winter study, at which point all remaining monies will be returned to the various contributing parties in proportion to the amount that they contributed.

“Because the IGF is an entirely new project, it needs to be tinkered with to make it fulfill its mission most effectively,” Rogers said. “Winter Study tends to be the period during which we have the most time to work on projects like this, so we figured we’d let it run until then at which point, with all of the input we can get, we’ll review how well it’s worked.” At the end of Winter Study the fund can be renewed pending approval of all endorsing groups.

Although the IGF has been generally well-received, it does have its critics. John Phillips ’02, the CC representative from Prospect, voiced some objections at the CC meeting, but agreed to vote in favor of the proposal as an experiment until January.

At the meeting Phillips argued that social segregation is not a product of a lack of funding, but of everyday individual choices. “Getting two groups together for one event a year won’t change the other 364 days of their polite obliviousness to each other,” he said. “Maybe the group leaders will get to know each other, but what this will accomplish for the great majority of group members is dubious.”

Additionally, Mayo Shattuck ’03, the class of 2003 representative, expressed his concern of CC making a relatively large financial commitment in a year when it is low on funding. “There are certainly benefits to the increased group interaction that the IGF facilitates,” Shattuck said. “However, in a year when CC is very low on funding, I think that the $1,000 we have just committed to the IGF would have been better used to fund new groups or help out the struggling existing groups.”

Samme Ahmed ’01 co-chair of MinCo, also expressed his concerns about the proposal, but said that he is waiting to see the full reaction of all MinCo members before deciding his stance on the fund.

“With the issue of social fragmentation it would be best to continue cooperation between groups like MinCo and CC,” Ahmed said. “Social fragmentation is the exact issue that groups in MinCo feel that they can help successfully resolve.”

Immediately after passing the motion, CC received its first request and approved its first allocation for an IGF proposal. Liz Hoover ’01 of NASAW (Native American Students at Williams) and Lia Amakawa ’01 of the Literary Society asked for funding for a jointly sponsored poetry reading. After deliberation about whether this event should fall under the IGF fund or the general fund, CC voted to give $250 from the IGF fund.

“The Literary Society was pleasantly surprised to find out about intergroup funding,” said Amakawa. “Before this realization, we encouraged our members to attend the reading, but could not aid in financing it. However through intergroup funding, we were able to overcome these frustrating limitations, and offer NASAW our full support,” she said.

Hoover also expressed her support for the idea, especially after the poetry reading took place this weekend. “I got the opportunity to socialize with people that I have in the past only seen in class or walking around campus, and what brought us all there was this co-sponsored event,” she said.

CC will entertain proposals for IGF funding in the same way it addresses requests for money from the general fund. Requests need to be prepared for CC’s office hours on Sunday night in order to get on the agenda for CC’s full meeting on Wednesdays.

The council will then vote on any given proposal as they would any funding request except in the case of the IGF the money would come directly out of the IGF fund instead of the CC general fund. As it stands now there is no cap on how large of a proposal can be made to the IGF.