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A $110,000 gift for students — from students

Graduate Students’ Association drives COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund to more than $800,000
April 22, 2020
By Marta Samuel

‘You are not alone — your friends and your community are thinking of you.’

As support continues to stream in for the COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund, Concordia’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) has set the pace with a $110,000 gift to benefit fellow students.

“During these times, we can’t just look at this from a financial point of view,” says Farrokh Darvishi, president of the GSA. “There is anxiety, frustration and fear of being isolated. I hope this sends a message to students that says ‘You are not alone — your friends and your community are thinking of you.’”

The GSA represents approximately 8,000 graduate diploma, master’s and PhD-level students at Concordia. It provides them with various services and acts as a negotiator between graduate students and administration, organizations and other associations — both at the university and externally.

Through its Student Initiative Fund, the GSA provides financial assistance to students, so they can present research and lead workshops at conferences. With events now on pause due to the health crisis, the GSA’s executive committee decided to optimize funds by directing them to students in need of immediate support.

While he’s unsure of how many graduate students will require assistance during the pandemic, Darvishi — who has served as GSA president since November 2019 — says the number is significant. The GSA’s executive committee members hope the community will join them to help lift the financial worry.

“Don’t underestimate what you can give. It’s not about the amount,” Darvishi says. “It’s the effect of that collective gift that matters.”

‘It makes for a better society’

Support from the $110,000 GSA gift is open to any graduate student who is a member of the association and applying through the online student relief fund.

“I extend my gratitude to the Graduate Students’ Association for its leadership in a time of crisis,” says Paul Chesser, BA 94, GrDip 97, vice-president of Advancement at Concordia. “There is a lot to be proud of at Concordia and I am delighted to see our students step up in support of each other.”

More than 4,000 students — undergraduate and graduate — have applied for Concordia’s COVID-19 financial aid since the fund’s creation. Gifts large or small help alleviate the economic burdens students face now that many of them are out of work.

Concordia launched the student relief fund with an initial $500,000 in financial assistance, calling on the broader community for additional support. Following a $100,000 anonymous gift, plus $50,000 from the Concordia University Alumni Association, the GSA’s donation brings the fund to more than $800,000.

“If you give now, think of it as an investment,” says Darvishi. “You’re planting a seed into the ground and as it grows, you see how it makes for a better society.”

Learn more about the COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the well-being of our students — many of whom can no longer afford basic necessities such as rent and groceries. If you can, please consider making a donation.

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