Innovation Fund Aids Ideas Across Campus

Carly Behm | The PHOENIXStudents for Reproductive Justice received money from the Student Innovation Fund to provide free menstrual prod- ucts in men’s, women’s and gender-neutral restrooms across Loyola’s campus. Applications for the fund are due Feb. 9.

Last year, the Student Innovation Fund was created to engage students with Loyola’s strategic plan. Since, about $12,000 was allocated to fund student-led projects including community outreach and wellness.

The Student Innovation Fund was created by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney last spring. It provides money to support student-led initiatives and was created to engage students with Loyola’s Plan 2020. Plan 2020 is Loyola’s strategic plan, and it lays out goals to help create “a more just, humane and sustainable world.” Its values are to ensure student success, engage in more social justice conversations, reach out to the community and encourage multidisciplinary collaborations.

Jane Neufeld, vice president of Student Development, said 18 proposals were submitted since the fund was first announced in March last year, and 12 received funding. To get funding, a proposal needs to uphold the values of Plan 2020, according to Neufeld. About $12,000 was allocated to student proposals so far, according to Neufeld, but she said didn’t know the source of the money.

Some students are using their funds to run community programs, support their student organization and bring new services to campus.

Loyola sophomores Amy Al-Salaita and Megan Frasik helped develop a proposal to provide free menstrual products in restrooms on campus, called the Pads and Tampons Campaign, which received funding. Al-Salaita and Frasik are part of Students for Reproductive Justice (SRJ), a group advocating for reproductive rights.

Al-Salaita and Frasik said they wouldn’t disclose the amount of money the project received.

Supplying free menstrual products in restrooms on Loyola’s Lake Shore and Water Tower Campuses started this semester, according to Frasik. Areas with this service include the Damen Student Center, Information Commons, Mundelein Hall and Terry Student Center. Menstrual products will be in men’s, women’s and gender-neutral restrooms because not everyone who menstruates identifies as a woman, according to Al-Salaita.

Frasik, 19, said she thinks making menstrual products more accessible is important to reproductive health.

“Menstruation is a function of the human body, and it’s not something that you can just opt out of,” the environmental science major said. “Menstrual products and reproductive healthcare should be as widely available to our students as possible.”

Meili Burns, 21, received funding to support the Multicultural Greek Council’s annual Triple S Show, which features performances from the multicultural fraternities and sororities on campus. Burns said she received $3,000 from the fund and plans to use the money to enhance the next Triple S Show this semester.

Burns said she thinks the fund is helpful because it can give a student organization more options for event planning.

“Having the [fund] really allows us to not focus as much on ‘Oh, will this fit in our budget?’ but ‘How can we use this money to better the experience and better the event for everyone around us?’” the senior biology major said.

The Food Recovery Network received funding, and the money was used to buy supplies to help store, package and transport food to a local food bank, according to Loyola’s chapter president, Sean McNelis. McNelis, 21, said The Food Recovery Network was denied funds to get these items from Student Activities and Greek Affairs (SAGA). McNelis said some of SAGA’s policies wouldn’t let The Food Recovery Network obtain funding for supplies to have on hand.

Assistant Director of SAGA Leslie Watland said she was happy to hear the organization was able to get funds through the Student Innovation Fund in an email to The PHOENIX.

The Student Innovation Fund also supported proposals that bring Loyola values outside the university.

Loyola senior Ezgi Ilhan received money to fund a community outreach program. Ilhan, 21, is part of Girls Who Code, a group of students who introduce young girls in Chicago to computer science and technology. Ilhan said she plans to use the money to provide lunch and T-shirts for the classes.

Abigail Cannon, 29, and Anya Nikolai, 25, are graduate students who received funding to support the Women in Science group at Loyola’s Health Science Campus in Maywood. They got about $7,000 from the fund. Cannon and Nikolai plan to use the money to hold programs to get young girls interested in health science careers.

Nikolai said she felt the funding made her feel closer to Loyola.

“It’s so awesome to feel valued as a student and really be shown that you get to be part of the Loyola community,” Nikolai said. “We’ve been shown now first-hand that [Loyola cares] about our ideas, our passions and want us to grow to become better people.”

Neufeld said while the fund is part of Plan 2020, she hopes Loyola will continue funding student initiatives.

“I think it is showing some success,” Neufeld said. “It is a way to get students involved and interested in our strategic plan. Whenever the next plan is, we want students to be engaged and if one way is to … help facilitate some programs … I would hope that this fund would be continued.”

Applications for the Student Innovation Fund this semester are due Feb. 9.

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