Colleen Mearon ’21
A new program at Merrimack College allows students to get off campus and enjoy different experiences at the school’s expense. Dean’s Dollars are distributed by the college’s Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Allison Gill, and they give students the opportunity to choose for themselves what they would like to do on the weekends.
To apply for Dean’s Dollars, students just need to complete a simple form. The key to this program is requesting events that Merrimack does not already provide, such as an off-campus concert. The other key is that the cost of the proposed event needs to be in budget.
“The event my friend requested was an escape room,” said Brennan Kauffman, a student at Merrimack. “I personally think that the school offering to pay for an off campus event up to $25 each person is a great way for me to connect with other commuters.”
The Weekender, which is sent out weekly to students via email, contains a link to a form for students to fill out their specific request. The application provides a “checklist” of desired criteria for each student request, giving more insight into what will and will not be approved. Things taken into consideration are how many students will be participating, noting that the more the better. The checklist also asks, “Does your request fulfill a need that is not met by another event provided by Merrimack? (Tickets to sporting events, Paint Nights, etc. that Merrimack offers often are less likely to be approved, unless otherwise justified by you, the student. Think creatively!).”
The short form then asks that the student applying provides details about what they would like to do, when the event is occurring, where it is located, how much it will cost and who will be attending. It is made clear at the start of the form that the total cost of the event must stay under $500 or be limited to $25 per person.
There have already been 60 participants, and as news spreads across campus about this option, Dean’s Dollars is expected to have many more.
“I think that this program will be a great addition to Merrimack,” student Kiia Lappalainen explained. “I will definitely request an activity now that I know about it. For example, maybe a trip to the aquarium, a movie night, the zoo or an amusement park like Six Flags.”
Other Merrimack students agreed that they would be extremely interested in going to various museums, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science in Cambridge and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. A trip to the Botanical Gardens also sparked interest among students, along with a walk on the Freedom Trail in Boston.
Based on information provided by students who have already used Dean’s Dollars, it is important to give as much detail possible so requests can be reviewed quickly without the need for answering follow up questions. Students are encouraged to submit requests three weeks in advance, and students should remember they can take advantage of Dean’s Dollars only twice each semester.
Whether it’s students who live on campus or commuters, this new way for Merrimack College students to fund outings will help up bring people together who are on tight student budgets.