A recent article in the New York Times about graduating seniors donating to their colleges painted the business of donation drives in a less-than-flattering light.
The article focused on Dartmouth College and Cornell University and two students who did not donate to their class gift and who, as a result, were put on a blacklist.
Jennifer Gallas, the Associate Director of Alumni and Constituent Programs, said that she does not know of any time this has ever happened at Knox, and does not imagine that the attitude towards fundraising at Knox would lead to it happening.
“I can’t imagine listing those who don’t give,” Director of the Knox Fund Julie Layer said.
Gallas runs the Senior Challenge, which, through a student committee, aims to get 90 percent of graduating seniors to donate whatever amount of money they can to Knox. Gallas said that some people have donated less than a dollar, and others have donated large amounts. What counts, she said, is the number of seniors that donate. When 90 percent of seniors give money to Knox, the chair of the Knox Fund Steering Committee will then donate $2,500 to Knox.
The New York Times article reads, “At Dartmouth, the lone student in the graduating class who held out, Laura A. DeLorenzo, was excoriated in the student newspaper and on The Little Green Blog, a student web site, which also ran her picture.”
DeLorenzo said she “resented the pressure the gift apparently had created.”
While Gallas and Layer said they cannot imagine students blacklisting each other at Knox for not giving money to the Senior Challenge, Gallas did say she has heard stories of students feeling pressured to donate.
Gallas and Layer also said the school does publish a list of the names of those who donate to the Senior Challenge, but that those who donate can choose whether they want their name listed or want to be listed as an anonymous donor.
“They are asked when they donate if they want to be anonymous,” Gallas said.
Abby Pardick, ’10, said that while it was not a huge source of stress, she did feel pressure to donate to the Senior Challenge before she graduated.
“I did kind of feel pressured,” Pardick said. “Everyone talked about how great a Knox education is and it’s towards the end of your senior year that they’re asking you for money. I think it’s the timing of it.”
On whether Pardick felt there was a sense of competition with her classmates about donating, she said, “Either you’re going to donate or you’re not. It’s not, like, a topic of conversation.”
Gallas said that, in creating the committee of seniors for the Senior Challenge, they are told to keep the topic of who donates and does not donate money confidential.
Even after Pardick had donated money to the Senior Challenge near the end of her senior year, she was pursued by student members of the Challenge committee who kept asking her to give.
“It just got annoying after a while,” Pardick said. “It was like, I donated my money, leave me the f*** alone.”
In the past few years, the Senior Challenge has raised around $10,000 each year. This week, Senior Class Secretary Casey Patrick sent out an e-mail calling for those interested in being on this year’s Senior Challenge committee to contact her. This year’s committee will consist of 20 to 25 students who will organize the Senior Challenge.