Student groups go through various campus organizations to receive funding

Student organizations often have lofty ambitions that require plenty of funding to realize. Many groups obtain this funding through the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate’s Allocations Board. TCU funding can allow student organizations to realize their full potential, but groups without this financial security have to turn to other sources of income.

Tufts Hip Hop for Social Change is one such group that has recently received funding from the TCU. The group has been preparing for its third annual music festival, which will take place on April 16.

Run by senior Mark Adams, the club has expanded from typically hosting a concert in Hotung Café for its annual event to an all-day bonanza. Along with the concert will be graffiti-painting workshops, percussion clinics and break-dancing exhibitions.

“We’re using music, specifically hip hop, and the culture to bring people together to expose them and educate them in something they might not see every day,” Adams said. “It’s a collaboration to listen and enjoy ourselves, but also to be exposed to these messages.”

The club, working in conjunction with the Nomadic Wax record label, brings hip-hop artists from around the world to promote messages of social-political change and positivity.

“We’re reclaiming the lost purpose of hip hop,” said freshman James Bowker, the club’s president of public relations. “Nowadays, people equate hip hop with materialism, but on the backburner, it’s music about marginalized people and struggling and change.”

This academic year is the first that the TCU has formally funded Tufts Hip Hop for Social Change, and the group is excited to be able to continue expanding its festival in the upcoming months. The HIV/AIDS Initiative and Zeta Psi fraternity are co-sponsoring the event, which will also act as a forum for discussion about other diverse social issues.
“We’re working in conjunction with student groups to raise awareness,” Bowker said. “It’s synergy, getting a lot done from a lot of different angles.”

One group that hopes TCU funding can help it grow is the Harry Potter Society (HPS). Though not a fully independent organization, the Tufts Community Union Judiciary formally recognizes the society as a sub-group of Beyond the Light, a science fiction and fantasy club that receives TCU funding. HPS is currently applying for buffer funding for second semester events that surpass Beyond the Light’s financial capacities.

“Our interest is in how some themes from the books can really be used to teach kids about modern-day, real-life issues,” junior Maayan Simckes, the club’s president, known as the headmistress, said. “We’re thinking about working with the Somerville-based Harry Potter Alliance that does community work around the country.”

Last semester, HPS helped organize a concert featuring wizard rock group Harry and the Potters, held a Yule Ball in conjunction with the Tufts Ballroom Club, journeyed to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and brought Quidditch to Tufts’ Residential Quad.

“This semester we are going to perhaps use the games as ways to highlight another HPS project,” Simckes said. “For example, we’re selling T-shirts with all proceeds going to an organization promoting children’s literacy.”

The society is also hoping to host an activity at the annual April Open House for prospective freshman in which the students can tour the campus on broomsticks to learn more about the university and experience Tufts in a light-hearted, unconventional manner.

Not all student organizations, however, rely on independent fundraising or the TCU for funding. Another Option is an organization mostly run by freshmen that focuses on hosting alcohol-free events on campus. Not funded by the TCU, the club receives funding from Health Service.

“We decided, at least for this year, we didn’t want to go through the formal process [of becoming a club],” freshman Maya Grodman, one of the eight founders of the organization, said. “We just want to bring together a group of people who want other options to the party scene.”

The group held a kickoff event in the Zamparelli Room in the Campus Center last semester. Approximately 70 students attended to have dinner and meet other like-minded students.

“It’s brought a lot of people together,” Grodman added.

Another Option is also in the process of organizing a weekly dinner gathering in Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center, and plans to have a more active presence on campus over the course of the semester. Over 50 students went to Kendall Square for an ice-skating event on Jan. 22, and the members are currently planning potential relay races, scavenger hunts and a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. They are also at the ready to initiate a campus-wide snowball fight as soon as the next storm hits.

While the eight original members ultimately decide on the events, they encourage students to come forward and suggest or even run a program.

“We’re starting to assign ourselves personal responsibilities as we learn about our strengths and weaknesses,” freshman and co-founder Howie Levine said. “We keep it like a direct democracy from our forefathers in Rome.”

The club is hosting a speed-dating event in the Mayer Campus Center on Valentine’s Day, and already has over 40 students planning to attend, according to the event’s page.

This article was edited on 2/15/2010 to clarify which student government offices are responsible for which decisions.