RUSA ups meal swipe groups to two per semester


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Photo by Nicholas Brasowski |

University students Paige Frankel and Brenna Sooy swipe to eat in Tillett Hall on Livingston campus. Students can donate their guest meal swipes to two organizations per semester starting spring 2011 rather than one.


The Rutgers University Student Assembly has increased the amount of student organizations fundraising in the meal sign-away program per semester starting spring 2011 in an effort to increase the ability for groups to raise money for a good cause.

Following several conversations with Executive Director of Dining Services Charlie Sams, RUSA President Yousef Saleh said each organization would have at least one month at different times during the semester to ask for students' meal swipes.

Although this two-month period for fundraising has yet to be determined, Saleh said it would be best if the fundraising period were moved closer to the middle of the semester to keep things fair.

"If either organization can't have their meal sign-away until the end of the semester, they might not be able to get as many swipes than if it was in the middle," said Saleh, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

A concern that arises with this new arrangement is the chance that the amount of possible funding earned will decrease, Saleh said.

"It's a small concern," he said. "We will check the data after its done and see how much each group made and see if it was more effective the way it was before."

Ross Kleiman, a Busch Campus Council representative in RUSA, led the effort to expand the meal sign-away program and said the new system also requires voting for meal sign-away organizations to take place a semester prior to fundraising.

"It will allow them to take advantage of the entire semester by knowing at least a few months in advance," said Kleiman, a School of Engineering junior. "When the semester starts and everybody has their guest swipes, they can start out right then."

In the past, RUSA would decide which group could raise funds through the meal sign-away program and conduct the actual time of fundraising in the same semester, Kleiman said. By using this method, the amount of possible donations from students is reduced.

"It may take another week to get it all set up [after the vote]," he said. "Then all of the sudden, it is halfway through the semester and it is tough now."

The Palestinian Children's Relief Fund experienced this last semester, after their fundraising period was delayed because of the controversy that arose after RUSA awarded them the rights to the meal sign-away program, Kleiman said.

This forced PCRF to postpone fundraising until the following semester, which impacted their ability to raise money for their cause.

As president of the Rutgers Undergraduate Research Society, Kleiman said the more notice he receives about an event reciprocally helps a group coordinate their event more efficiently and allows time to maximize productivity.

"So it gives a buffer. It is just better to know ahead of time," he said. "I wouldn't imagine it being to anybody's detriment."

The motivation to expand the meal sign-away plan developed after this year's meal sign-away vote, where many RUSA members expressed the difficulty in choosing the eventual winner, Rutgers Future Scholars Fund over Give Kids the World, Kleiman said.

"Members felt that choice was really tough and people mentioned they wanted to do more than one group at once," he said. "I reached out to Sams after I had heard people mention that and spoke to Saleh as well to put this together."

Kleiman also said the expansion of the meal sign-away program was not due to a realization of flaws in the system but rather an updated version to attend to the concerns of both RUSA members and University students.

"It's not like it was put together badly," he said. "It just grew out of that and this is now an expansion."

Although RUSA Vice President Matt Cordiero holds the same concern as Saleh, he said the only way to learn is through experimentation.

"I just don't know how it is going to turn out but I am excited to see what happens," said Cordiero, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "If it helps people donate, it would be interesting to see that."

In an effort to ease this concern of both Saleh and Cordiero, Kleiman said the average University student uses about five or six guest meal swipes a semester, which would provide a fair opportunity for the second group to fundraise.

"Do I imagine that it will be easier to raise money in the beginning than the end? Probably," he said. "But the goal of this is to expand it as much as possible and I think this is a good improvement."

RUSA member Dan Herbert worried the expansion to meal sign-away would force two groups to raise funds at the same time, increasing unneeded competition in the charitable program.

"You're left with two charities sort of fighting for people's meal swipes at the counter," said Herbert, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "But this solution is pretty good and I'm happy it is working out this way."


Devin Sikorski

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