Student Senate will continue to fund research projects

Student research will continue to be a priority for the Student Senate at Grand Valley State University. On Feb. 27, as part of the annual budget appraisal, the senate voted to continue giving financial backing to the Academic Conference Fund during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Susan Mendoza, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, said the Academic Conference Fund is a travel grant allocated on the quarter each year.

The money is used to help both undergraduate students and graduate students travel internationally and nationally to present the findings of their research.

The OURS has offered a total of $300,000 to nearly 800 students between the fiscal years 2009 and 2014. Student Senate has contributed about $20,000 in the past few years to the fund, making it the only student group involved in the funding process.

“We do give a lot of money each year,” said Samantha Conrad, vice president of the Finance Committee. “And, I think it’s for a great cause.”

This idea initially came out of a 2007-2008 Student Senate discussion regarding the funding necessary to promote student research at GVSU.

“The mission of our office is to provide comprehensive services and programs to support students in their inquiry, creativity, scholarship and research,” Mendoza said. “A lot of it has to do with our students using their voices and talking about the power of their experience.”

Mendoza said the fund helps students go from passive consumers of knowledge to active producers of knowledge. It is open, on a first come first serve basis, to all students who have a research presentation and can explain how their work is relevant to the scholarly world. Students can only access the fund one time per year, although they may be eligible for resubmission. They must be supervised by a faculty member.

“The faculty believed it was one of the best ways to understand the content of the classroom,” Mendoza said. “The faculty love this. This is something that rejuvenates the work that they do.”

In addition to funding from the Student Senate, Mendoza said the administration and faculty are also responsible for supporting the travel grants for student research.

The OURS was created in 2010 to continue the tradition of providing support for students and the faculty mentors who are involved in research projects.