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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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ASUU’s First “University Gift” Going Toward University Child Care Fund

August Miller
Jessica Patterson, Matt Miller and Jack Bender pose in-front of ‘U’ at the University of Utah. Wednesday April 20, 2016. (Photo by August Miller)

“It’s the gift that keeps giving.” This is how Jessica Patterson, the outgoing ASUU Vice President of Student Relations, describes a $25,000 donation to the ASUU Child Care Endowment Fund overseen by herself and other outgoing ASUU administrations.

Previous donations on behalf of outgoing ASUU administrations have been gifts specifically for the senior class. This year’s donation, however, is the gift that Patterson said will benefit the student body as a whole.

“Usually the Senior Class Gift would be some kind of legacy or mark of the senior class,” Patterson said. “However, the University Gift is more of something that will benefit the student body for years to come. Something that will really benefit university-wide rather than just the senior class leaving their mark.”

The donation will go to the ASUU Student Child Care Program and towards providing scholarship money to students with children or families, Patterson said. Rather than all in one year, the money will be rolled out in small increments for multiple years. “It would be $500 a semester extra in scholarship money and would amount to $1,000 in the following Spring,” she said.

The Child Care Endowment fund is seriously underfunded, Patterson said, and while they typically have around 25 applicants a year, they are only able to provide scholarship money to eight or nine students.

According to Patterson the gift was a joint effort on behalf of a number of ASUU officials, including Vice President of University Relations Matt Miller, former Financial Advisor Rob Phillips and Student Body President Jack Bender.

“It’s the first one,” Patterson said. “So we wanted to make it really meaningful and cool.”

The bill was drafted and passed through Senate and Assembly without any pushback, Patterson said. “It had really good support. I was very excited about it.”

The only concern some Senate and Assembly members had was with the funding’s rollout: why not use the full $25,000 to provide students with scholarships next year? Patterson’s response is that “this is supposed to be something that helps people forever, not something that makes an impact and is done. We want this money to be an investment.”

Previous gifts have not been as well-received as the Child Care Endowment money. Last year’s administration, for example, proposed a costly and extravagant “Fountain of Ute” be built and gifted to the senior class. Patterson said the fountain initiative was met with considerable backlash from students, causing then-Senior Class President Brittni Strickland to ditch the effort.

Strickland came up with the last-minute idea to provide $12,500 to the University Counseling Center, an idea that received considerably more support. “She was scrambling to get another gift,” Patterson said. “I think she did the right thing.”

Patterson said she is unaware of the counseling center having put this money to use. “To my knowledge it has not been spent yet.”

This year’s donation will be different though, Patterson said, because the Child Care Endowment Fund’s finances are controlled by ASUU whereas the counseling center’s are not.

“I know that it is safely deposited into the endowment fund,” Patterson said. “We are lucky that, because we control both sides of the money being transferred, we are able to see it through to the end and not have any miscommunication with how it’s moved.”

Patterson is satisfied with her and other ASUU official’s efforts and hopes it will have a positive impact on the U. “It’s hopefully an investment in future Utah students. It’s an investment in families and it’s an investment in current students, so I’m really happy with it and I hope the student body is as well.”

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