Penn’s Interfraternity Council has established its first scholarship fund to reduce the burden of membership fees. New members joining fraternities in spring 2020 will be able to apply for the new scholarship, which aims to promote diversity and inclusion.
The IFC will offer about 10 scholarships to new members, depending on the amount of applicants and financial need. Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and Engineering sophomore Majesty Uwagerikpe, who is overseeing the scholarship fund, said the main priority of the scholarship is to promote diversity and to eliminate financial barriers. All new members will be invited to apply starting next spring.
The IFC wants to ensure that the scholarship “invites members who are permitted to further opening up our community,” Uwagerikpe said. One of the essay questions for the scholarship application also asks students to brainstorm an initiative their fraternity can implement to improve its diversity.
Another goal is to lift some financial burden from individual chapters who had been solely responsible for helping members pay dues through their own scholarships or other internal funds. Thirteen of the 26 chapters under the IFC currently offer chapter-wide scholarships to students.
At the April monthly forum, where all fraternity chapter presidents and the IFC executive board met, the student leaders unanimously agreed to the scholarship fund. At the meeting, the IFC also voted to establish its first VP of Diversity and Inclusion’s position, taken on by Uwagerikpe.
Uwagerikpe, VP of Administration and College sophomore Roberto Kern, and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life advisor Jon Bell will review the applicants and choose who receives the scholarship. The committee plans to award the scholarship to roughly 10 applicants, though Uwagerikpe said the number will vary depending on the financial need and number of applicants.
While the first year of the scholarship will only be available to new members after they accept a bid from a fraternity in spring 2020, Uwagerikpe said he hopes to open it up to more members in the future.
“Especially as a student on financial aid myself, I remember being very nervous about whether or not I’d be able to pay dues,” said Schmitt, who has worked with Uwagerikpe to establish the fund.