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ISSUE 121 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 11/2/2007

$6,500 allocated by SGA

By Lyndel Owens
News Editor

Friday, November 2, 2007

St. Olaf's Student Government Association has earmarked $6,500 to support students attending off-campus conferences. Such funds are currently available in limited amounts through the Center for Experiential Learning, Student Organizations Committee, Volunteer Network and already strained resources of academic departments. Student body President Tyler Hauger '08 and Vice President Ishanna Rambachan '08 hope the initiative will inspire students to explore their interests beyond campus.

Hauger noted that there has been a great need for such a program at St. Olaf. "We noticed that more and more students were searching for ways to attend various academic conferences beyond St. Olaf as a means of continuing their education, but it was daunting task to find funding. We are college students, and we do not have the money to buy a plane ticket and a hotel room. Various opportunities for students were being missed solely for financial reasons."

The application process is simple and straightforward to encourage a wide swath of applicants. Questions include, "How will this benefit you and your future (career, co-curricular, academic) interests?" and "Describe a tangible way you will contribute your findings back to St. Olaf Community."

In addition to the five-question application, those seeking support are required to submit a resume and all registration materials.

"The application asks for recipients to describe a tangible way that they will relay what they have learned back to the St. Olaf community as a whole. Our hope would be that they would take on the responsibility to design some sort of channel to share their experience in their own way back to the Hill," Hauger said.

The money is designed to ease the financial burden students often carry when they travel to conferences. The student senate notes stated, "There will be no cap on funding, but we will use our discretion on a case-by-case basis and attempt to make the process fair and equitable." The notes also stated that the scholarship "will cover conference registration, transportation and housing. We allow a small stipend for food (if not included) which will vary by conference location."

"It is for students that didn't have other resources that are beneficial for their academic future and well-being. It benefits the college by putting us on the national scene by sharing information with other schools," Rambachan said.

Upon return, scholarship recipients are expected to share what they learned through a poster presentation, slideshow, chapel talk or other method open to the campus. Rambachan emphasized the committee's expectations. "Upon returning from the conference, they will share the skills the they've gained. We expect them to contribute back to the St. Olaf community in some ways," she said.

Applications are available in the office of Student Activities. Students can apply now through Apr. 30 for conferences during the school year or summer. Those applying are asked to submit their applications one month in advance as the committee, comprised of Hauger, Rambachan, senators Kim Spitzfaden and Mike Rekawitz and SGA financial officer Erika Stranghoener, meet once every two weeks.

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