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March 5, 2013

Uncommon Fund winners announced

Twenty four projects were announced as Uncommon Fund winners Sunday night. Of the $85,000 designated to the Fund, $75,132.60 was allocated. Projects ranged from professionally-facilitated cuddle parties to a day commemorating Dean Boyer to a survey of South Side perspectives on gang violence. The most popular idea, as determined by a student vote, was a hot water dispenser in the Regenstein Library.

This year, the Fund was comprised of $50,000 taken from the Student Activities Fee, $25,000 from the Dean’s Fund for Student Life, and $10,000 that rolled over from previous years. Just two years ago, the Uncommon Fund was allocated a total of $40,000.

Though the projects vary in their time frame of execution, seriousness of topic, and general practicality, all share an “uncommonness” which leaves them few other resources to secure funding.

One of the most popular groups among students was Smanger Breeze, which received one of the highest number of “likes” on Facebook. Spearheaded by second-years Matthew Montequin and Andrew Kramer, the intent of this initiative is to bring Turquoise Jeep, an absurdist R&B/rap collective, to perform a concert at the University.

The path to securing University support for their idea has not been easy for Montequin and Kramer.

“This movement has involved a lot of unsuccessful applying for funding. We got turned down for being an RSO. Last year we applied for the Fund but didn’t even make it to the voting round. They thought we weren’t serious,” Montequin said.

If Turquoise Jeep rejects their request to appear on campus, Smanger Breeze will have to return the money to SG.

Another funded project, dotCross Coffee, takes as its mission the promotion of coffee appreciation through tasting sessions and weekly pop-up coffee bars.

Second-year co-founder James Goh said, “The Uncommon Fund is really a starting point for us, and if we find that there are enough people interested in spreading this love of coffee, we are hoping that we can incorporate it into an RSO.”

A statement on the Uncommon Fund webpage responded to student disappointment that the Maroon Collegiate Sportswear project was not funded.

“There is an on-going discussion about the possibility of funding Maroon Collegiate Sportswear. Any money remaining will be reallocated for other initiatives since it is the purpose of the Student Activities Fee to fund projects in the same year the money is paid for by students,” it stated.

Each Uncommon Fund grant expires after a year. Some of last year’s winners, like Maroon TV and a competitive solar car team, still impact the community today.

Time will tell which of this year’s projects will have a lasting impact.

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