Undergraduates that the university recently furloughed or terminated are now eligible to apply for a $50 Meijer gift card thanks to the passage of Bill 57-30 by the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU). The application opened on Friday, Nov. 13.
The program, which doesn't affect a student's financial aid, is targeted toward students that Residential and Hospitality Services laid off earlier this fall. Bill 57-30 allocated $33,000 of the ASMSU budget to go toward the creation of this fund. Later, the Office of the Provost pledged $15,000 and each class council pledged $500, bringing the total fund to $50,000.
ASMSU hopes to serve 1,000 students with the fund. Roughly 700 students were furloughed by RHS alone. International Students Association Rep. Nikunj Agarwal, who introduced the bill, said that student needs weren't met after the furloughs, as inadequate resources are the only thing available from the university, like the MSU Food Bank, for example.
The MSU food bank does not provide enough groceries to completely eliminate a grocery bill, but rather as a supplement.
"The Student Food Bank provides supplemental support, this means that we do not provide all of the food and supplies you will need for two weeks but our goal is to cut your grocery bill in at least half," the website said.
International student applicants are given preference over other students, while those living off-campus in East Lansing are given second preference. Agarwal said that this is due to less opportunity for international students to find new employment.
"Primarily, we chose to give international students preference or first consultation because other student employees, like American citizens, have the opportunity to get employment out of campus, but there are visa restrictions that do not allow international students, like me, to get employment off-campus," Agarwal said.
Applications will go through the review process after the application closes on Nov. 27, and gift cards will be distributed through email by the end of December.
Applicants must be enrolled in the fall 2020 semester to be eligible. Bill 57-30 can be viewed here. The MSU Food Bank is currently operating under appointment only and students are only permitted one visit every week. Another fund, the Furloughed International Students' Mutual Aid Fund, is currently collecting donations.
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