Senior Class Gift boasts 60-percent participation

By Rachel Cromidas

Approximately 60 percent of fourth-years have donated to the Senior Class Gift as of early this week, meaning that the fundraising committee has passed an important hurdle in their effort to solicit donations for College financial aid, although participation still lags behind that of the Class of 2007. Alumnus John Fyfe (A.B. ’68) pledged to donate $25,000 to the gift once participation passed 55 percent, and students involved in the fundraising process celebrated the fulfillment of that promise in recent days. “Last month we were a little bit behind last year’s participation rate ,” said Anna Snoeyenbos, chair of the Senior Class Gift Committee, “But we have now surged ahead and are just breaking records left and right. We’re really poised to reach our goals.”

Last year, over 70 percent of the senior class donated to the gift, approaching Dartmouth and Yale University’s 80-percent participation, Snoeyenbos said. This year the goal is to reach 80-percent participation.
 “We want to catch up with other schools because young alumni giving and the senior gift do get factored into our rankings in the U.S. News & World Report,” Snoeyenbos said. “The biggest way you can tell how people judge their experience at the University of Chicago is whether or not they decide to give something back.”

The gift committee is encouraging students to donate $20.08 in commemoration of their graduation year, but a few students who are not involved in the committee have gotten into the campaigning spirit as well.

After learning that donations as small as 50 cents counted toward senior class participation, fourth-year Michael Atzmon began offering one-dollar bills to his friends on the condition that they donate them to the gift fund.

“The U.S. News & World Report rankings are heavily influenced by alumni giving, so I felt like 20 extra dollars to try to bump the school’s rankings would be a good investment,” Atzmon said.

But a potential boost in the College’s ranking is not the only incentive for students to donate. Money donated to the senior class gift is funneled into the College Fund, which sponsors study abroad programs and student aid.

“I donated because the money goes to things like financial aid, and that’s important to me,” fourth-year Margot Spellman said.

Seniors have until June 13 to donate to the class gift. According to their website, the committee is hoping at least 159 more students will participate in order to reach last year’s 72-percent benchmark. For every percentage point above that number, University trustee James Crown has pledged to donate an additional $4,000 to the gift.