Heating assistance, co-pays for necessary medications, train tickets for sudden trips due to immediate family member deaths, insurance/clearance fees for required placements and internships, food for students going for days without eating— merely a few examples of the financial support Shippensburg University students received. Over the past fifteen years, the SU Women’s Consortium (SUWC) Emergency Fund for Students has provided thousands of dollars of support. One of the fund’s co-founders, Barbara Denison, has announced that control of the fund has been transferred to the SU Foundation.
In the spring of 2006, Denison, along with former Sociology/Anthropology professor, Cindy Drenovsky and Mary Burnett (Director of International Programs) began the Emergency Fund in response to experiences with students needing emergency funds in the face of an immediate crisis. These crises directly impacted the students’ ability to continue their education at SU.
In each case the SUWC member involved both provided help personally and helped the student make appropriate contacts for further assistance. These experiences launched the idea to hold SUWC fund-raisers to provide the money to have on hand for such grants. Now students who were threatened with violence and/or sexual assault in their place of residence, students suddenly left homeless or without adequate resources for food, students with transportation emergencies all have received SUWC assistance.
SUWC is made up of women faculty, staff and students. The SUWC declared that “Students have the right to have their anonymity protected” in dire situations and that the assistance offered by the SUWC was always to be considered a “gift, not a loan, and is not expected to be reimbursed.” Members of the Consortium could immediately give students cash and then be reimbursed by the SUWC. Due to university staffing cuts, critical members of the SUWC left the institution and the burden of managing the emergency grants became insurmountable.
After long consideration, Denison and Sara Grove, Chair of Political Science and Chair of Criminal Justice, concluded that the group could no longer offer the Emergency Fund’s assistance as there was no complement of SUWC officers, members and Emergency Fund committee members and chair to fundraise and provide the formal structure needed. The SU Foundation created a similar fund and, despite different restrictions and procedures, the SUWC found it to be the most suitable for taking over the mission.
“Fifteen years of helping students is something we are all proud of doing, and from what I know of funds raised and funds given in grants, we’ve handled about $30,000 over that time.” Denison, a member and former chair of the Sociology/Anthropology Department, director of the Organizational Development and Leadership Graduate Program, and Faculty Athletics Mentor, will be retiring this spring after 19 years of dedicated service to the university community.
Students in need of emergency assistance can apply for a grant at the bottom of the webpage: https://www.sufoundation.org/initiatives/student-emergency-fund/. If you would like to donate to the Student Emergency Fund, you can go to the same link and click on “Make a Gift Today.”