AUC’s constant strife to develop new innovative facilities to create a more inclusive and supportive environment has seen many initiatives over the years. Be it Jeugdlab’s outreach in our neighbourhood, Right2Education pioneering inclusivity for refugees in Dutch higher education, or the AUCSA’s Diversity Commission making our heterogeneity more visible and impactful. Undoubtedly, all these avant-garde endeavours rely heavily on the devotion and engagement of our students. However, it is often exactly those students that lack the same opportunities of support their projects provide. Particularly, the most trivial of financial obstacles can easily disbalance a student’s private and academic life if not addressed in time. In recognition of this very real issue Student Council, in cooperation with AUC management, has spearheaded a new resource for the community: the Solidarity Fund (SF). AUCSC’s Co-Chair Sofija Stenfanovic sat down with us to chat about her new passion project.

First of all what is the SF and how did the initiative start?

The AUC Solidarity Fund is an AUC-based foundation or ‘stichting’ in Dutch, which aims to provide temporary relief for financial emergencies. Say you are unable to pay for an emergency flight home, have unforeseen medical costs, or face one-off rent/tuition arrears. The idea for such an initiative has been around since at least the last academic year, and was inspired by the recognition that our community could do more to alleviate the harmful impacts associated with sudden financial hardship. The SF was started by AUC students, in collaboration with staff members who had previous experience with similar funds, or expertise relevant for establishing and running the foundation. After a lengthy period of internal discussions the current Student Council members and the students who have been involved since last academic year took the initiative of setting up the legal framework for the SF last semester, which led to officially establishing the fund.

How will the SF function and who will be its main target group?

In its initial stage the SF will offer support in the form of interest-free loans students repay at the earliest opportunity, unless otherwise specified by the contract between the student and the SF. AUC students – including students who have been temporarily deregistered for financial reasons – are eligible for support. The fund will function as a last resort, in order to ensure that students who are not eligible for funding from other sources can be helped by the SF.

In terms of governance, who is on the board and how is the SF organised?

The SF is run by a board consisting of students and members of staff of AUC. This currently involves three core faculty teachers, two Student Council members and an alumnus. The board determines general policies concerning fundraising and disbursements, communicates with student representative bodies (AUCSA and SC), and relevant functionaries in student support (Student Life Officer, Senior Tutor), as well as ensures publication and accessibility of relevant information concerning the fund. While all members are involved, the student members of the board are specifically responsible for organizing fundraising activities. The executive committee of the SF is responsible for all financial transactions, and is made up from staff members, in order to ensure the privacy of student applicants is respected.

Certainly the project requires extensive funding. Do you have a funding scheme already laid out and if so how does it align with the core idea of the SF?

Because the SF is a community fund, we aim to receive most of the funding from different segments of the AUC community, including faculty members, staff, students, and alumni. We encourage faculty members who give guest lectures at other universities or institutions to request compensation in the form of a donation to the Solidarity Fund if possible. We will organize yearly fundraising activities in collaboration with AUCSA committees, and we will raise awareness of the fund at graduation ceremonies and alumni borrels to allow alumni and parents to contribute.

Lastly, particularly for our alumni, a question is ‘How can I get involved?’ What are options for alumni to contribute to the SF?

The most effective way to support the fund is to contribute with donations, however big or small. If you are interested in helping with SF’s activities there might be an opportunity to get involved in organizing fundraising, or otherwise working with us to ensure the sustainability and continuity of the fund. If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, please contact us.

Solidarity Fund contact

As our new website and email address are under construction, please contact the Student Council section of the SF at: info@aucsc.nl.

If you wish to get in touch directly with the staff section please contact Diederik van Werven at D.L.vanwerven@auc.nl.

AUC Solidarity Fund bank account number

Stichting AUC Solidarity Fund NL91 INGB 0007 5998 84