The Associated Students Senate allocated two $40,000 grants to the Financial Crisis Response Team and the Educational Opportunity Program at its Wednesday Zoom meeting to help students who are struggling due to the effects of the coronavirus.

The Senate, pictured in a winter quarter meeting, voted Wednesday night to allocate $40,000 in grants to student relief groups. Nexus file photo 

Both organizations provide financial relief to students through various means and can use the total $80,000 to help students experiencing financial hardship, such as the loss of a job due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Off-Campus Senator Tyler Ferguson, who wrote the resolution to allocate the grants. 

The $80,000 is coming from the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate’s unallocated budget, which is not designated for spending on a specific topic. The fund, provided by students through campus fees, will have $88,688.30 left after the transfer to the Financial Crisis Response Team (FCRT) and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) offices, according to the resolution.

“It was really important that we use some of our excess student fees that the students have paid into A.S. in the first place,” Ferguson said. “This is their money and it deserves to be going towards things that will be helping them.”

The FCRT, which helps students facing financial difficulties through a variety of services such as housing rent vouchers, will disperse the money among students who need it most based on the response team’s general review process, according to Rebecca Plotkin, the basic needs coordinator in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and a member of the FCRT.

EOP provides A.S./EOP grants to students facing specific financial needs, such as medical costs, according to Aaron Jones, director of the EOP; he added that the EOP office currently has roughly $4,000 left for A.S./EOP grants.

Although there is no set date for the organizations to receive the money, Ferguson said he expects A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez, who is directed by the resolution to transfer the funds, to do so “promptly.” After the FCRT and EOP distribute the funds, Marquez will write a report about how the money was spent and present it to the A.S. Senate, according to Ferguson. 

Normally, the unallocated funds would be used to fund student groups or various projects. The bill’s second author, Off-Campus Senator Daniel Segura-Esquivel, said that because of the remote nature of spring quarter, the money would be best spent helping students who are reeling from the financial impact of the coronavirus.

“There’s a lot of financial insecurity that people are facing, especially with a lot of them losing their jobs, losing out on income that they were expecting,” Segura said.

He added that the remaining money in the budget is for “emergency situations or just things … we don’t foresee that we can’t really plan ahead for.”