Arkansas Tech’s Student Government Association will begin reimbursing Jerry the Bulldog’s handler starting next semester to prevent cutting funds for other programs under the Department of Campus Life.
SGA passed a resolution to begin paying $1,628.76 per semester to the current and future handlers of Jerry to cover all costs of his non-event related care including feeding, supervised exercise, and event preparation work that Heather Strasner, current handler and Spirit Assistant, said she contributes.
In justifying the costs, Strasner claimed that 400 hours per semester of non-event related care is provided to Jerry; 56 percent of the care goes towards feeding and bathroom care, 29 percent is supervised exercise time, and 15 percent is event preparation.
“I provided care for Jerry as an extra duty in combination with my formal role as visit day coordinator in the Office of Admissions,” said Strasner. “When I began making plans to step away from full-time work, the Division of Student Services offered me a part-time employment opportunity overseeing the spirit squads and the campus ambassador (Jerry the Bulldog) program.”
Since Jerry is officially owned by Tech, the Department of Campus Life would have to absorb this cost resulting in a bud
get cut for other programs, according to a memo provided by Strasner.
“My salary includes overseeing the Arkansas Tech spirit squads, planning Homecoming activities, overseeing campus spirit initiatives, and the time spent with Jerry the Bulldog at events on and off campus,” said Strasner. “The additional amount requested from SGA is to cover the non-event related duties of the campus ambassador.”
Local businesses, Russellville Animal Clinic and Creature Comforts, have contributed to the support of the program through donations that cover more significant costs associated with Jerry, but SGA remains the only on-campus organization to provide funding to his maintenance, according to the memo.
“I think Jerry is so popular and SGA’s name being a part of that could really get their name out there,” said Keegan Nichols, SGA adviser and vice president for Student Services.
SGA sees this as an opportunity to further advocate Jerry the Bulldog and the campus ambassador program, according to Resolution 011.
“Fully funding Jerry’s expenses shows how committed we want to be in explaining the story of Jerry and what our campus ambassador means, but also how we can expand the program to continue having a tradition at Tech that students love,” said SGA President, Matthew Smith, senior agriculture business major from Hermitage.