The Student Services Innovation Fund (SSIF)—a new fund that will be used to promote student-led ideas for students’ well-being and health—is currently taking applications for projects. The fund will partially be financed through a reallocation of a surplus that Student Services had accrued.
According to Executive Director of Student Services Jana Luker, the Student Services budget, which is formed from student service fees and government transfers, had accumulated a surplus over the last few years.
“Over the last couple of years […the fund] has grown more than what we need,” Luker said. “We like to have $1 million in there just as a cushion [because] things happen. But it was increased to around $6 million at one point, and [it] seemed like we should be doing things.”
According to Erin Sobat, U2 Arts and member of the McGill Senate’s Committee on Student Services (CSS), the idea to create the SSIF came from students and Student Services staff.
“The idea was originally suggested by [Luker], and I think it was catalyzed by concerns around the Deputy Provost’s proposal in Fall 2013 to reallocate some of the funds elsewhere on campus,” Sobat said. “We and other students wanted to ensure that this student money remained where it was intended to go and not simply used for maintaining status quo service levels.”
Sobat explained that the SSIF would help expand student-service related projects.
“We are looking to push the envelope in Student Services in the face of both the current fiscal climate and increasing student needs for resources such as mental health, counselling, and services for students with disabilities,” Sobat said.
The members of the committee look forward to support ideas that are geared towards McGill students.
According to Luker, students who propose projects will be paired with a member of the Student Services staff.
“[That] is in order to ensure that whatever the project is enhances the strategic plan of student services and falls within the parameters of what student services would do,” Luker explained.
Luker also stated that both short-term and long-term projects would be accepted for the SSIF. The proposal submission deadline for projects requiring above $5,000 in financing is March 25. Projects under $5,000 will be accepted on a rolling basis.
“I am hoping to see projects that do take two or three years to implement fully to have much more long-term vision with the larger amount of money,” she said. “Up to now, [funding] has been under $5,000 for short-term [projects].”
Courtney Ayukawa, who spoke in her capacity as ECOLE co-cordinator for the 2013-2014 school year, explained that she believes that funding for student projects is important. ECOLE is a student-run sustainable-living community on campus. Ayukawa highlighted how another fund, the Sustainable Projects Fund (SPF), helped the ECOLE collective last year.
“Funds for student projects are crucial since they facilitate student leadership [and] development,” she said. “There are so many incredible and passionate students [who] have taken initiative and are working on their own projects outside of school. I think it’s important for the university to support them.”
Sobat explained that students would take part in evaluating proposed projects through involvement in the CSS.
“There has been an impressive level of student involvement in the development process up to this point, and we will continue to be an active part of the application review process,” Sobat said.
The SSIF will be officially and fully launched in Fall 2015.
“This is the first time [running the fund], in the first round—this is what we are calling the soft launch,’” Luker explained. “We will be able to implement some of these projects that were approved in September  by September . Then we will be able to do [the] hard launch with publicity and communication.”