By: Makar Malov

In light of the current pandemic, many people across Lower-Mainland faced detrimental impacts on their financial and health stability due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. – However, one demographic that has been hit the hardest are students. COVID-19 has taken away jobs, income, and freedom from the student’s life and left them anxious.

During this time of need, the UBC Student’s Union Okanagan is collaborating with UBC to establish a UBCSUO COVID-19 Emergency Fund. “The fund aims to provide students a short-term relief on issues where the students are struggling due to COVID-19…”, said Romil Jain, the President of UBCSUO.

The Student’s Union initially contributed $50,000 to the fund, which was later UBC-matched, and initially, the total endowment was thus set at $100,000. Enrolment Services are currently verifying applicants for the UBCSUO COVID-19 Emergency Fund. They received 550 applications within 3 hours and subsequently halted the application process.

To meet the need of increasingly anxious students, the funding was increased by an additional $500,000 via approval from the UBC Board of Governors. “I am very proud that we have been able to increase the funding to accommodate student needs significantly. We are also launching a campaign in collaboration with UBC to raise an additional fund with the help of generous donors.”, said Romil Jain.

On Twitter, many students showed their full support. They were delighted to see that the UBCSUO and UBC Okanagan are taking proactive measures to handle financial distress among students caused by the pandemic.

The President of the Students’ Union also expressed the importance of UBC matching a percentage of the additional fund to meet student needs further, as the entire additional amount of $500,000 added to the emergency bursary fund was from student tuition money.

Upon reaching out to the UBC Board of Governors’ representative from the Okanagan, Governor Jassim Naqvi said that he was glad to see that part of the $1.2M surplus from the Okanagan incremental tuition increases were being used to offer students aid in the wake of this pandemic.

However, when asked about UBC, potentially matching a percentage of additional funds into the UBCSUO COVID-19 Emergency Fund, he expressed the importance of managing our expectations. – Jassim stated, “With target enrolment speculated to be possibly lower this year in September as well as the question of whether both UBC’s campuses will reopen in Fall 2020 being up in the air, we must treat all requests with caution”.

UBCSUO and UBC Okanagan continue working together to provide their best support to students in the time of the raging pandemic.