SBA channels remaining budget into new COVID-19-affected student support fund

With peers grappling with unprecedented challenges wrought by COVID-19, members of UW Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA) are channeling the organization’s remaining budget into a new support fund for affected students.

The new SBA Mutual Aid Fund — for which students can now apply — is meant to provide a measure of financial relief for students from disproportionately impacted communities who are facing pandemic-related financial adversity.

“We want this money to go to our peers who are truly in need,” says SBA President Emina Dacic. “These include those who have family members who are essential workers, those who are part of communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and especially those who are from historically underrepresented populations.”

To meet eligibility requirements, students must be currently enrolled in spring classes at the law school and be experiencing financial hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Students can apply for up to $1,000 but are encouraged to apply only for what is needed.

Dacic says spring is a huge time for the SBA, which allocates much of its yearly budget toward flagship events that gather and celebrate fellow law students.

These funds are supporting our most vulnerable students during a critical time of need. This is a remarkable example of our students pulling together to help each other through a very difficult time.

Anna Endter

With all in-person events cancelled or postponed in alignment with statewide social distancing guidelines, the student-led organization sought to use its remaining funds in a way that would directly help those who have been hit the hardest.

“We asked, ‘How can we help our peers in a way that is most impactful?’” Dacic says.

In order to protect the privacy of fellow students and make individuals feel comfortable applying, the SBA opted to create its Mutual Aid Fund utilizing the law school’s established funding application infrastructure. UW Law Associate Dean for Students Anna Endter, who Dacic says is one of SBA’s biggest advocates, is managing the fund’s distribution.

“I am heartened by the SBA’s care and concern for their colleagues,” Endter says. “These funds are supporting our most vulnerable students during a critical time of need. This is a remarkable example of our students pulling together to help each other through a very difficult time.”

Financial struggles are only some of the many challenges facing UW Law students in the time of COVID-19. The pandemic’s wide-ranging effects have forced students to change just about every aspect of their lives while balancing law school, physical and mental health, work and the uncertainty of the immediate and long-term future.

“People are exhausted from looking at the screen, but that's our new reality,” Dacic says. “There has just been so much that people are facing, and part of it is just trying to figure out how we're going to adjust our old processes to deal with these new ones.”

For Dacic and fellow student leaders, this means constant check-ins with peers, deeper collaboration among classmates, and the development of shared best practices — from designing a healthy schedule to how to create an optimal home workspace.

Despite the immense difficulties the law school community is dealing with, Dacic says she remains inspired by the myriad students who have stepped into key leadership roles in keeping the UW Law community together.

“I feel like people are understanding the need to be more compassionate and empathetic with each other,” Dacic says.

If you would like to support students during this difficult time, you can make a difference by giving today. Below are the most pressing areas of need as we continue to serve our students and communities:

Learn more about the SBA Mutual Aid Fund and how to apply.