If you were outside enjoying the nice weather last Wednesday on campus, you may have noticed the barbecue outside MacEwan Hall in the afternoon.
No, this wasn't another event to welcome students back to university, rather it was the kickoff to what will be a month-long campaign to raise funds for the United Way's University of Calgary Campaign, which runs from Sept. 30-Oct.30.
The campus campaign is being run separately by representatives from the faculty and staff of the university, the Students' Union and Graduate Students' Union, all of whom will be hosting their own events. However, all of the money goes to the same campaign managed by the University Operation Committee for the United Way, which is entirely composed of volunteers.
"The two goals of this year's campaign are to raise $175,000 for the United Way and to double the participation rate [among faculty and staff]," said Administrator at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities Gerry Dyer, who co-chairs the UOC and represents faculty and staff states.
Participation in this case involves pledge forms through which university employees commit a certain portion of their salary toward the cause. Dyer, who represents the staff and faculty in the committee, hopes to improve on last year's staff participation rate of 23 per cent which equalled $166,331 for the United Way.
"If every student gave one dollar, we could collect well over $20,000," said Dyer, who added that student participation in past years has been low. "We feel that it's important to give back to the community that supports the university."
This year's theme for the campaign is Working Together for Our Community. As a part of that theme, the U of C, as well as other educational institutions such as the Calgary Board of Education, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Mount Royal College and the SU, will be hosting a family skating event at the Olympic Oval on Oct. 17 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. It is free for students and employees of the participating institutions, although a donation box is available. Face painting, door prizes and hot dogs will also be part of the event.
Although none of the $17.2 million dollars raised by the United Way of Calgary in 1997 went directly to student related organizations here at the U of C, Resource Development Associate at the United Way of Calgary Gary Brown, stressed that it is still a very important resource for helping students.
"One in three people in Calgary take advantage of a service offered by United Way, be it Meals on Wheels or legal services--any university student could be one of those persons," said Brown.
Among the agencies the United Way helps fund are AIDS Calgary Awareness Association, Calgary Birth Control Association, Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, Distress Centre/Drug Centre, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Another project the United Way is targeting this year is the low-cost housing problem.
"I think the housing crisis is somewhere we're putting particular pressure on that would affect students," said Brown. "United Way acts as a link to the corporate world to solve these problems."
Students' Union Events Commissioner Harvey Cohen, who holds a chair on UOC, explained why there is SU involvement in the campaign.
"Even though most students are short on cash, we're still willing to help those deeper in need," said Cohen. "All profits from our events go to the United Way campaign, as all of the costs we incur are covered by donations or taken from our special events fund."
Fundraising events will continue to take place on campus in the next few weeks. Many of the university faculties are running events, from loonie walks to bake sales, the next of which will be Oct. 7 in Scurfield Hall.
The SU will also host its own events. Keep a lookout for the Pie the Professor event on Oct. 26-27 and Pass the Pie where individuals will have to beat another donation to avoid getting pied. Students interested in helping out can contact Cohen at 220-3913.