Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Senior class gift again allocated to Annual Fund

 Originally published in The Mac Weekly.

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Every year, the graduating senior class leaves behind a gift as a token of appreciation to the school. The Class of 1992 left behind a swing set; the Class of 2003 fundraised for the installation of a wind turbine. Since 2009, senior classes have donated their gift to the Annual Fund.

This year, the Class of 2012 will once again contribute its gift to the Annual Fund. However, organizers of the gift struck a compromise to balance the effectiveness of the donation with the desire to leave a physical mark on campus.

Like past years, some members of the Senior Class Gift Committee questioned the decision to donate to the Annual Fund.

“There were committee-members who were questioning, ‘Well, does it have to automatically go to the Annual Fund?’ I did recognize that we as a class want to leave our mark at this school,” said Kaitlin Roh ’12, who worked for the Annual Fund during her junior year.

At the same time, Roh ardently supports the class gift going towards the Annual Fund.

“Most of the money [raised by] the Annual Fund goes toward… faculty staff and benefits. And then the next thing after that are scholarships. So the top two things I have loved at Macalester are what the Annual Fund is supporting,” she said.

“Honestly I had mixed feelings at first because I thought it was going right to the Annual Fund,” said Colin Westcott ’12, one of 13 members of the Senior Class Gift Committee. “[But then] I found out where that money in the Annual Fund goes to. It made sense because it goes into giving people the same opportunity I had, especially just with the general money that is needed to run the facilities and also just giving back to the students directly.”

Ultimately, a compromise was brokered.

“Here’s the deal,” the Senior Class Gift Committee wrote in an opinions piece in The Mac Weekly last week. “If 55 percent of our 442-member class (a new participation record) donates any amount to the Annual Fund, a student space in the new Janet Wallace Fine Arts Building will be named after the Class of 2012.”

The idea emerged from a November meeting between representatives of the senior class and Tommy Bonner, Vice President of Advancement.

“They (Mac McCreary ’12 and Kaitlin Roh ’12) shared their sense that members of the senior class had two characteristics they felt were important in the senior gift drive,” Bonner explained in an email. “First was something tangible to mark and remember their time at Macalester. Secondly, they wanted the focus to be on participation of members of the class in the gift and recognize that each graduate’s contribution is important regardless of the size of the gift.”

A participation rate of 55 percent among the senior class would be the record for any class in Macalester history. Thus far, 12% of seniors have donated to the gift, a higher rate of participation at this point in March than previous years.

The opportunity to name a lounge in the new music building was something of a coup for the senior class.

“We figured it’s the best of both worlds,” said Anna Min ’09, Associate Director of the Annual Fund and the administration’s liaison to the Senior Class Gift Committee. “Why would we build something that we don’t know will be [around in] 30 years, will require maintenance, someone will have to upkeep it every week?”

Normally, naming a room in a building comes with a steep price tag- $50,000, according to Min. However, the Class of 2012 was awarded the opportunity to attach its name to the lounge as an incentive to donate.

Donating to the class gift comes with other perks. Students can honor an individual professor with their gift, listing the chosen professor and senior in the final issue of The Mac Weekly and on the reverse of the Commencement Events schedule. Further, the honored professor will receive a card noting the contribution. Members of the Senior Class Gift Committee stress giving back to the investment Macalester makes in students.

“I feel like it’s not well-known among the student body that, even if you are paying the full sticker cost of $52,000, you are not actually paying the full price of what it pays to educate you,” Roh said. “There is $16,000 on top of that to create the entire Macalester experience for every student. So in a sense, your whole tuition is subsidized $64,000 for your four years here without you ever even knowing it.”

“I’ve been telling all of my friends that if you get a six-pack of beer on the weekends, [then] you can give up the six-pack of beer and give to the Senior Class Gift Committee,” Westcott said.

While the Senior Class Gift Committee recommends a donation of $20.12, gifts can be as large or small as desired. The committee hopes to maximize the number of participants rather than the size of the gift. “We’re all seniors- we’re not trying to break the bank here.” Min said. “The whole point is getting people excited and aware about what is going on and what it takes to run a college. It’s not free… We have to support the next generation that’s coming up.”

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