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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

SGA announces new endowed fund to expand financial assistance for students

The Student Government Association (SGA) announced the creation of a new endowed fund called the “SGA Seizing Opportunities Endowed Fund” in conjunction with the Office of Advancement on Friday, April 28. The fund, which has a $3 million endowment goal and is currently at $680,398, will increase funding for the “Seizing Opportunities Fund” (SOF) to expand support for students with resources and opportunities that financial aid does not cover.  

Currently, students are able to access the SOF fund through Handshake in order to request financial assistance for purchasing technology, ski clothing and a number of other materials or opportunities. According to the new fund’s announcement, the SOF did not have sufficient funding to meet all the needs of students; this disparity inspired the creation of the new endowed fund.

Nikita Rodov ’26, a first-year senator, expressed his excitement that the endowed fund was passed unanimously in the SGA because of the opportunities it will provide for future students.

“This fund, I believe, not only provides students with an increased opportunity to embrace the culture at Middlebury, but also to thrive as students,” Rodov said. 

Middlebury Director of Equity Initiatives Elaine Orozco Hammond will play a role in overseeing opportunity grants by the college. Hammond said she believes that this fund is an important step in leveling the playing field and providing greater access to educational and career opportunities for those who may otherwise be excluded. 

“With this monumental action, the SGA demonstrates how current Middlebury students want to support future students by reducing financial barriers to access. It also brings us closer to this institution’s goal of students’ full participation in opportunities and experiences during their time at Middlebury,” Hammond wrote in a statement to The Campus.

Raymond Diaz ’23, the current SGA president, explained that there is already a large amount of money in the fund because of pre-existing college fundraising initiatives. 

“One of those pillars that Middlebury fundraising campaigns have focused on is access,” Diaz said. “So it was really good timing when we were talking about starting this endowment in SGA meetings because the college has already been fundraising for initiatives projects on an institutional scale that are related to access.” 

Although it helped create this fund, the SGA and Middlebury students will not be responsible for fundraising to fulfill the endowment’s goal moving forward. 

“The Office of Advancement will be handling any fundraising initiatives, and this does not fall into the confines of students because it is a full time job, and they will be in charge of it going forward in the future,” Diaz said.

The SGA will financially support the new fund by contributing a part of its reserves to help meet these goals: 50–75% of the funds that would be returned to the SGA reserves each year will be redirected to this fund until it reaches $4,000,000. The bill establishing this endowment contributed $200,000 from the SGA spring 2023 reserves to start the fund. The SGA plans to have a 5% spending rate for the fund starting in fall 2023. 

“For the next 10 years, the SGA will be allocating a portion of its SGA reserves money, which is the money at the end of year that does not get used by any student organization from that student activities fee,” Diaz added. “I gave future administrations a recommended amount of money within the bill so that they are not forced to give a certain amount, but also keeping in mind that the goal is that one day no student should have financial barriers in the Middlebury experience.”

SGA Directors of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Seif Alyosef ’25 and Fanta Diop ’25, were also part of the passage of this initiative and expressed strong support for the fund and the opportunities it opens. 

“The establishment of the SGA Seizing Opportunities Endowed Fund is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to make the Middlebury experience accessible to all, and we are proud to be a part of this essential initiative,” Alyosef and Diop wrote in a statement to The Campus.

“The reason why endowments get so large is because someone started it a long time ago.” Diaz said. “You can’t really substitute time, you can’t really expedite it and you can’t really control it. I am very interested to see where this endowment goes 20 years down the line, when hopefully, it has grown.”

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Mandy Berghela

Mandy Berghela '26 (she/her) is a Local Editor. 

She previously served as the SGA Correspondent and contributing writer for the Campus. She plans to major in Political Science, with a minor in Arabic. Along with the paper, Mandy serves on the Judicial Board, social media manager for the Southeast Asian Society (SEAS), and is also involved in many campus theatre productions. On her free time, she enjoys long walks, cycling, and reading fantasy novels.