On March 17, the KAIST International Students Association (KISA), sponsored by Lotteria KAIST Branch, announced a meal scholarship project for all KAIST students demonstrating financial need. Students in need were encouraged to submit their applications through Google Forms, after which 20 eligible students would be selected to receive the scholarship. Chosen applicants would get a free meal set — consisting of a burger, fries, and a soda drink — worth not more than 6,000 KRW, three times a week in the KAIST Branch of Lotteria between March 24 and June 15. Recommendation from a country representative was needed to apply and each representative could only recommend up to five applicants. The project was first announced through an email to all international students, and later was also posted in Korean on KaDaejeon. The results were out on March 24.
In an interview with The KAIST Herald, KISA President Shubhranil Sengupta elaborated on this plan. He revealed that it stemmed from one of the primary complaints expressed in KISA VOICE: the monthly stipend from KAIST was not enough to fully support one’s living cost. However, it would be difficult to raise the amount of the allowance due to limited governmental funding.
To solve this problem, Professor James Morrison, KISA’s Advisor, suggested a plan to give free meals to students who could not afford them. Negotiations with Jonghun Kim, the manager of Lotteria, KAIST Branch, finalized the project. “We approached Lotteria first as Mr. Kim has long been interested in giving back to the [KAIST] community,” Sengupta commented. “In the future, we also have plans to negotiate with Subway, Tous les Jours, Dunkin Donuts, and so on.”
In addition, KISA aspires to extend the scholarship to Korean students. “We had contacted [the Emergency Response Committee] Rise before we spread the application form,” said Sengupta. However, following the cancellation of the re-election for the USC Presidency, KISA had to temporarily use KaDaejeon to reach out to Korean students. Once the USC eventually gets re-established, they hope to refine this initiative and reach even more students.
Applicants were evaluated based on their access to the international kitchen, total monthly earnings, currently enrolled degree program, and the reasons for applying. The 20 selected recipients come from various backgrounds and degree programs, and include both Korean and international students. “We received quite a lot of responses for this first-time project,” Sengupta remarked. He added that after this, KISA would try to increase the number of recipients and improve other aspects of the scholarship — such as finding better ways to evaluate the eligibility of applicants and prevent any misuse of the meal scholarship.