Peer-Pressure Giving: Senior Gift

The senior gift is a tradition at many colleges and universities. Students and student governments approach fund raising for this monitory offering to their soon-to-be alma mater in a variety of different ways, from direct donations to elaborate events. The percentage of seniors who give back upon graduation is obviously a point of pride for the class, and a marketable statistic for the college. But is pressure to donate getting out of hand at some schools?
Although anonymous giving is often praised, it’s not an option for senior classes who wish to boast their senior-gift participation. At Dartmouth College last year, Laura A. DeLorenzo was the only student who decided against making a donation, and in turn was blasted with criticism by the student newspaper and blog, The Little Green Blog. The New York Times reports that the class had been offered an additional $100,000.00 if they could get every student to contribute.
“My decision not to donate to Dartmouth reflects my personal conclusion that the negative aspects of Dartmouth outweigh the positive, and nothing more,” Ms. DeLorenzo wrote. “Where other people choose to donate their money is their decision and I fully respect their right to make it.”
At Cornell, the class of 2010 used the Greek system to bolster donations. Erica Weitzner received a number of phone calls and e-mails from her sorority sisters saying they knew she hadn’t made a donation. “I understand the theory behind the Cornell campaign is they want their seniors to donate,” said Weitzner. “But pushing this hard makes it seem like it’s no longer really a donation but more like part of tuition.”
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