Associated Students, Inc. approved nearly $75,000 in grants Wednesday geared toward providing academic departments with equipment that will benefit students as part of its Pete Mehas Memorial Grant initiative.
The grants, which are up to $5,000 each, seek to honor the Pete Mehas, a former Fresno County Office of Education superintendent and board member of the California State University Board of Trustees, who died last year.
At least 27 applications were submitted for the grants which will be used for anything from Macintosh computers to 3-D printers. Of those, 20 were accepted with most of the remaining seven being rejected because they did “not benefit students in classroom learning or academically.”
“We were able to fund all the ones we wanted to fund, and the only ones that were rejected were ones that didn’t fit the specific grant,” said Anthony Farnesi, ASI senator who was recently elected vice president of finance for the 2014-2015 school year.
The idea for the grant began after Mikey Sanchez, ASI senator for the College of Arts and Humanities, requested money from ASI to buy cameras for students in the mass communication and journalism department.
“There were classes that wanted to use audio recorders, cameras, etcetera, and sometimes there aren’t enough for students,” Sanchez said. “For example, in multimedia production there were people doing their photo projects with cell phones. That’s not going to prepare you as a photographer if you’re not using the correct equipment.”
Instead of offering the grant to just one department, ASI decided to open it up to all departments, Sanchez said.
“We thought this would be a great way to improve the equipment for several departments and modernize it so students aren’t trying to learn with obsolete equipment,” Sanchez said.
Tuesday, the MCJ department, along with the 19 other grant recipients, was officially awarded that funding.
The money for the grants will come out of ASI’s reserve fund which total nearly $1 million as a result of unspent student fees.
While some senators voiced hopes that the Pete Mehas Memorial Grant would be an ongoing program offered by ASI, they also addressed concerns over solvency of the program. They suggested that ASI try to fund the grant in the future through fundraising or donations from academic departments, rather than pulling from the organization’s reserves.
“Although I would love to keep improving the quality of equipment for students, we intended for it to be a one-time grant,” Sanchez said, noting that if the grant was anually taken out of ASI’s reserves, the money would quickly be depleted.
“Hopefully this sparks a conversation among departments about how to raise funds to buy more equipment, because this is more of a small solution to a bigger problem,” he said.