Student Life introduces funding process for Student-Led Conferences

On March 4, the Office of Student Life announced a new application process for obtaining funding for student-initiated conferences. The process was ...

Apr 19, 2014

On March 4, the Office of Student Life announced a new application process for obtaining funding for student-initiated conferences. The process was introduced in order to keep such conferences innovative and creative. All conferences in the future must reapply for the funding annually. There are no guarantees for receiving funding the second time if a group received it for the year before. Lastly, the applicants must have a faculty advisor working on the project.
Under the new guidelines, students must submit a form with preliminary details such as dates, expected attendance, a description of the conference, statement of purpose, leadership roles and a detailed budget as well as a conference timeline. The content of each of these components is explained in the form alongside additional guidelines and expectations.
Assistant Director of Student Activities Victor Lindsay said that in the past, students approached Student Life or other departments on an ad hoc basis for funding and this new application process simply formalizes the system. He also clarified that this process was not introduced because the university is running out of money.
“By formalizing the process, I hope it encourages more students to apply,” said Lindsay. “In the past, students may not have even known this type of funding existed or who could provide it. Students would have to do the same work regardless. The application process just asks for certain pieces of information before awarding funding,” Lindsay added.
The announcement of the application form states that proposed conferences should “demonstrate high-value opportunities for intellectual discourse, interpersonal engagement and personal development.” The Office of Student Life believes that these criteria will benefit everyone by stimulating innovation and preventing conferences from becoming stale. They also noted that the initial student response to the new application process has been positive.
“I think restricting this funding to one or two conferences is going to encourage students to seek for external funding from companies and organizations which is actually how most conferences work,” said Abhijai Garg, co-executive director for GIN 2014. “Moreover having faculty organizers will help increase the quality of these conferences exponentially,” Garg added.
Junior Alf Lim, one of the founders of SILA, also agreed that the application is definitely beneficial to students as it makes the entire process more transparent.
“I think it’s a great initiative and it’s good to see that more infrastructure is being set up. It’s also a good way to prepare the institution for the upcoming growth we will have. Before, the information and procedures were more implicit, and people still knew because we could figure things out through word-of-mouth and by easily talking to smaller departments. But our school is rapidly growing, so having a wide platform like this would certainly help others getting started,” said Jance.
But Lim also felt that the introduction of the application process could be a sign that perhaps the Office of Student Life was not happy with the quality of current conferences. If this were true, it would mean students have a lot of work to do in order to enhance the quality of conferences.
The initial deadline for the applications was April 1 and student groups should have heard back from Student Life starting April 6. If all available funding is not awarded to those who applied before the initial deadline, then additional applications will be considered on a rolling basis until all the remaining funding has been awarded.
Mitali Banerji is deputy features editor. Email her at
Correction: April. 20, 2014
A previous version of this article misattributed quotes to Benjamin Jance IV instead of Alf Lim. The article has been revised to correct this error.
gazelle logo