RUSA approves allocation of $130K to student organizations for special events
At the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) meeting last Thursday, members passed a resolution honoring Laura Luciano, former assistant director of the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) in New Brunswick.
The legislation, entitled “Resolution for RUSA to Thank Laura Luciano for Outstanding Service to the Rutgers—New Brunswick Community,” was sponsored by the Health and Wellness committee and presented by Rita Portenti, the Sexual Violence Education Department director, and Jessica Resnick, a Livingston senator.
Luciano, who has worked at VPVA in New Brunswick since 2001, is now leaving to start a VPVA office at Rutgers—Camden, said Resnick, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, as she began the presentation.
Luciano began work in the anti-sexual violence field as a student activist during her years as an undergraduate at Rutgers, according to the VPVA website.
She became a program coordinator for VPVA in 2001 and assumed the role of assistant director in 2007, according to the website.
“She had a huge role here for 16 years, working to prevent sexual violence on this campus and really advocating for survivors here," Resnick said. "So we made a resolution to commemorate her time here ... and also to wish her luck and support her as she continues her journey on this issue.”
Portenti, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said Luciano was not only important to the program itself, but also in helping many individual survivors of sexual violence.
“If any of you were at the (Joe Biden) rally and you heard the survivors’ testimonies, a lot of them thanked Laura personally,” she said.
Laura Christiansen, assistant director of Student Involvement and a faculty advisor to RUSA, also jumped up to share her own story.
Fifteen years ago as a first-year at Rutgers, Christiansen had utilized VPVA services during her first semester and said that Luciano was her counselor.
“She did a lot of things in her tenure here at the University. She brought the Healing the Wounded Heart program, she founded the Clothesline Project, she created Denim Day fashion show, she did the 24 Hour Truce. All of these amazing things were her ideas,” Christiansen said.
In addition to those programs, Luciano has also contributed to the University-wide End Sexual Violence campaign by running the volunteer crisis response team, the Take Back the Night program and the Empty Chair campaign, according to the resolution.
The text of the legislation also thanked Luciano for her service to the community at large through her work on the board of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and on the New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council Against Sexual Violence.
The VPVA on the Camden campus is a brand new office that was created out of a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant to the University from the attorney general’s office, Luciano told The Daily Targum.
“I am looking forward to building the program and collaborating with the rest of the staff and students there to address sexual and dating violence through prevention, awareness and direct support of survivors,” she said.
When asked about the legacy she hopes to leave behind in New Brunswick, Luciano said she hopes to have left a legacy of believing and supporting survivors and helping students feel empowered to be positive, acting bystanders.
The resolution passed through the assembly with unanimous consent.
At the end of the presentation, Resnick shared with the audience something Luciano said that resonated with her.
“We’ve met with her about some policies, and one of the things that she said was that she can’t do much in her position, but (we) as students uniting with a bunch of other students can do a lot more than she can,” she said.
The resolution was preceded by an allocations board presentation, which introduced a bill to approve the 2017-2018 Special Events Allocations.
The bill passed, approving the allocation of a total of $130,000 to 11 registered student groups and organizations at the New Brunswick and Piscataway campuses using the school fee.
Events receiving special event funding included Dance Marathon, the 10th Annual Pre-Health Conference hosted by the American Medical Student Association and Islam Awareness Week, organized by the Muslim Student Association, according to the legislation.
To be considered for special event funding, student organizations applied in September and underwent an arduous review process by the allocations board.
Shannon Chang, RUSA treasurer and a Rutgers Business School senior, spoke in favor of the bill, stressing the importance of students coming out to attend events held by student organizations.
Chang emphasized that the purpose of events such as these, “is to bring the school closer together to showcase a lot of different things we have to offer.”
Spring budget submissions opened on Friday and will close on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 10 p.m., added Dana Cai, allocations chair and Rutgers Business School senior.
For student organizations who need assistance with their budgets, the RUSA allocations board will be holding "Budget Help Nights" next week.
The first will be on Monday Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Cafe in the College Avenue Student Center, and the second will be on Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus.
“You guys should go out to a lot of these events," Chang said. "Because people are working really hard on planning them."