SGA creates new civic innovation funding

By SOPHIA LIPKIN | April 18, 2019

Student Government Association (SGA) members discussed a new civic innovation grant and fund at their weekly meeting in Charles Commons on Tuesday. Executive President AJ Tsang pledged to donate funding to create the grant, which he intends to promote and sustain student activism on campus. 

In a slideshow presentation, Tsang pointed to Hopkins students’ long legacy of being politically and socially involved on campus. He added that in recent years, civic engagement has increased drastically and that SGA plays a key role in student advocacy. 

“We founded the Civic Engagement Committee at the end of [my] sophomore year; we funded TurboVote; we funded transportation to national marches like the March For Our Lives and the D.C. Climate Strike; and we also held things like the walkout for the Parkland shooting victims,” Tsang said. “We’ve really increased our role in being a central nexus for student voice.” 

SGA’s Civic Engagement Committee will administer the funding, which will be distributed to a number of student-run projects. SGA is still figuring out the exact process for administering funds, but Tsang has provided funds for four years, with $250 a year available to be distributed. Tsang stated that only SGA will be able to distribute the money, noting that offices on campus in the past have overtaken SGA projects without properly giving them credit.

Tsang hopes that his pledge will encourage other alumni to donate as well, which will allow SGA to continue supporting sustainable, grassroots student advocacy into the future. 

“It’s about sustainable advocacy that can go beyond Hopkins,” Tsang said. “You don’t need a lot of money — but a little bit of money can go a long way. The best projects are often low cost and grassroots.”

Junior Class Senator Kiana Boroumand commended the initiative.

“It’s so important for our SGA to support advocacy and activism on campus, and the Civic Innovation Grant is a great step forward in helping make that happen,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

SGA also voted on an amendment to the Black Caucus Act, which added a chair and vice chair for the future body. The amendment passed unanimously.

The Black Caucus was created in March to represent the needs of black students on campus and aims to invite leaders from black student groups to discussions at least once a semester. They have already started meetings, and Senior Class Senator Madeleine Uraih reported that the first meeting was a success.

Katy Wilner contributed reporting. 

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