Alumni help with textbook costs

By Lauren Kelly

Despite the apparent gloomy economic situation our country seems to be facing, some Columbia students may see a little extra cash in their wallets this semester.

This spring, the Columbia Alumni Association Network (CAAN) is taking direct action to help students cover the costs of attending college with the “Student Stimulus Plan.”

CAAN plans to give away $100 gift cards to 150 students for use in Columbia’s bookstore. Volunteers will be set up in the lobby of the newly opened 618 S. Michigan Ave. building-called the “Student Stimulus Lounge” for the event-on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to distribute the gift cards. The “lounge” will have coffee and energy drinks for those who stop by and every hour the first 10 students to line up and show their spring schedule will each receive a gift card to use in the bookstore.

“We remember how hard it was to pay for everything,” said Josh Culley-Foster, the national director of alumni relations for CAAN. “We want to make sure that everyone has a fair shot.”

Junior fine arts major Cari Cutcher said she thinks the stimulus plan is a great idea, “especially for kids who have financial aid loans, whose parents don’t pay for everything.”

Cutcher said she spent about $200 on books one semester. “I’ve also spent about $500 on art supplies,” she said. “They should do something like that for kids studying art and design.”

The Alumni Association purchased the gift cards from Columbia’s official bookstore in the South Campus Building, 624 S. Michigan Ave., with funding that had accumulated in the Alumni Textbook Fund, which has been relatively unused for over a decade.

Although the official event is taking place during the first week of classes, CAAN went undercover at the bookstore for a “Guerilla Giveaway” on Jan. 21, surprising students who were buying textbooks. About 20 students received a gift card and were interviewed on camera by the alumi.

Helena Stallings, a junior film and American Sign Language major, was buying her books that day and received a card.

“I was not expecting that when I came in to buy my books,” she said. “Chicago is an expensive city, and these books are not cheap.”

Stallings said she spent $570 one semester on books. With the help of the Alumni Association, she spent $127 this term.

Anna Kerben, a freshman dance major, also got a gift card.

“I have six books for my World Religions class alone,” she said. “This will definitely help.”

“We know that having books in hand is like having cash in hand in many cases,” said Culley-Foster, who graduated from Columbia with a marketing degree in 1991. “$100 at the bookstore-that gives students extra money for food or for art supplies. We want to keep the students going, keep them motivated. We don’t want students to be without books.”

CAAN is also starting a Book Buyback Donation Program for the end of each semester. Culley-Foster said if a student can’t get money for their used books at the bookstore, they can donate them to the Alumni Association. All the money that results will be used to replenish the Textbook Fund.

“The program is meant to be cyclical,” he said. “For graduating students, it is a way to give to the next generation.”

Although the idea for the Student Stimulus Plan was sparked because of the current economic situation, Culley-Foster said the association wants to continue the program in the future, possibly every semester.

“For students, the economy is always in need,” he said.

And with a new presidential administration, some anticipate a shift in the current economic scene, specifically in relation to college students.

“I hope that President Obama will make education a priority, specifically the affordability of higher education,” said Culley-Foster. “It was the students who got him elected. To show action toward those who gave voice to his message and put power behind his campaign should be his priority.”

But the Alumni Association isn’t waiting for the government to step in and help students.

“It takes the government being supportive of people, but it also takes people being supportive of those they care about,” Culley-Foster said.

semester. Culley-Foster said if students can’t get money for used books at the bookstore, they can donate them to the Alumni Association. All the money that results will be used to replenish the Textbook Fund.

“The program is meant to be cyclical,” he said. “For graduating students, it is a way to give to the next generation.”

Although the idea for the Student Stimulus Plan was sparked because of the current economic situation, Culley-Foster said the association wants to continue the program in the future, possibly every semester.

“For students, the economy is always in need,” he said.

And with a new presidential administration, some anticipate a shift in the current economic scene, specifically in relation to college students.

“I hope that President Obama will make education a priority, specifically the affordability of higher education,” said Culley-Foster. “It was the students who got him elected. To show action toward those who gave voice to his message and put power behind his campaign should be his

priority.”

But the Alumni Association isn’t waiting for the government to step in and help students.

“It takes the government being supportive of people, but it also takes people being supportive of those they care about,” Culley-Foster said.

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