Perkins-Grassroots merger gives students more resources


Image Courtesy Afua Brantuo

The Perkins Fellowship and the Grassroots Community both focus on social justice issues; merging gave both communities more resources.

On Jan. 4, 2022, a decision was made by Residence Life and the Center for Intercultural Student Development to merge Perkins Leadership Fellows and the Grassroots Living Learning Community — programs that focus on social justice activism and service learning, respectively. 

According to sophomore Grace Hsu, the merger has allowed more staff members to come on board.

Since the merger has made room for extra staff members, students can get more support in terms of academic and mental health. 

“Whenever I meet with a staff member, they are always asking, ‘How are your academics going?’, ‘Can I support you?’ or ‘How are you doing emotionally?’” said Hsu. 

According to senior Emerson Alspaugh, a Resident Assistant, the merger also allowed an extra RA to be brought on board. This addition brings extra support to residents and to the other RAs on staff. 

That “instantly doubles the amount of impact that you can have, decreasing stress on the RA and also allowing us to kind of focus on a more niche group of people,” said Alspaugh.

Along with better staffing, resources have improved significantly, according to Alspaugh. The merger led to a budget increase of $700.

“The Student Life team allocates a budget — it’s about $700 to the Van Reken buildings for specific service-related things, so [Perkins] got an extra $700,” said Alspaugh. 

According to Alspaugh, the extra budget can be used for necessities on service trips, such as renting a van, gas, food and other materials.

Perkins Leadership Fellows and Grassroots merged because Residence Life and the Center for Intercultural and Student Development noticed that both programs have similar goals, Jane Bruin, director of the Center for Intercultural and Student Development, told Chimes

To strategically use budget and staffing resources, we decided to streamline the Justice and Equity Living and Learning Community,” said Bruin. 

After key collaborators from Residence Life made a plan for the merger, the Perkins Foundation was consulted through the proper Student Life channels. 

“After it was decided how the model would work, the Perkins Foundation was consulted and then it went through the proper student life channels until it was approved by the Vice President of Student Life,” said Bruin.

The merger has given students more opportunities and better connections with more staff members who are dedicated to helping students achieve their goals. 

“We’ve got more resources, [and] we’ve got more people who are a lot more dedicated,” said Alspaugh.