The President’s Student Relief Fund at Mount Saint Vincent University was created last week in response to the economic impacts COVID-19 is having on students.
“Right now our students are really in need of us more than ever,” says Dr. Mary Bluechardt, President and Vice-Chancellor of MSVU.
The school announced the new program on April 1, and students who have taken at least 1.0 unit of courses since September 2019 are eligible to apply.
“We were trying to think of a way in which we could further support our students and maybe bring some relief,” says Bluechardt.
She tells NEWS 95.7’s The Todd Veinotte Show that students are allowed to spend the money where they see fit.
“It might relate to housing, food, technology, health services, transportation. Wherever, for them, their need is the greatest in the moment,” she says.
The fund has already gotten donations from the MSVU Alumni Association, TD Insurance, Holloway Investments, and a number of faculty and staff.
“We have the call out and we’re continuing to receive donations, but we need more,” Bluechardt says.
But in four days since opening, financial aid staff have already received over 70 inquiries. Bursary amounts will vary based on financial need.
“Our students really have significant needs and we’re trying to bring them relief at this time wherever we can,” says the President.
The University, which has just under 2,500 students, is also working with those who need extra aid, like the handful of international students who remain on campus.
“Their home is the Mount and we’re taking good care of them,” says Bluechardt. “But again that’s a challenge because there are all the restrictions around the pandemic.”
Bluechardt says the current situation is especially stressful for students who have to support a family.
“We have students that are parents, we have a lot of single parents as well at the Mount,” she says. “They have all these plans for summer employment and employment that they have all year and that’s been taken away from them.”
If the school ends up with extra money, Bluechardt says they will create a new bursary for students returning in the fall.
For now, students can apply by emailing email@example.com, but the university is working on an online application form for easier access.
“They’re trying to focus on their academics and complete degrees and diplomas and certificates,” Bluechardt says. “So they can move on and make a significant contribution, and they can’t do that.”
The President hopes the fund can alleviate a bit of the strain on MSVU students during the pandemic.
“I remain optimistic that together we can make things better and get back to a new normal,” she adds.
Those willing to make a donation can do so by visiting msvu.ca/donate.