Fundraisers reach out to students
Published: Friday, February 27, 2009
Updated: Friday, February 27, 2009 10:02
A new fundraising campaign aimed at students launched this week, and nearly 600 have already contributed.
Organizers of the Tufts Student Fund (TSF), which officially began operating on Monday, are looking to get 25 percent of students to donate money, which will be used to provide a year's worth of financial aid for a current member of the community. An anonymous donor has agreed to contribute $25,000 if the campaign reaches its goal.
"The student body has made it clear that they would like an opportunity to help their peers during the economic downturn," Caryn Karo, the assistant director of the Tufts Fund for Arts, Sciences and Engineering, said in an e-mail.
The newly minted student fund is an offshoot of Karo's office, which runs drives to secure annual philanthropy from alumni and extended community members.
Karo's staff is providing administrative support for the 19 students who are running the TSF. These students include Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators and leaders from a cross-section of campus groups.
The TSF has gotten the brunt of its support from a Senate cause dinner last week. The event, which came ahead of the TSF's official starting date, allowed students who ate at a dining hall to donate one of their meals to the campaign. According to Director of Advancement Communication and Donor Relations Christine Sanni (LA '89), 565 students pitched in a meal, for a total contribution of over $1,400.
Still, the initiative's leaders are currently focusing more on participation levels than the total sum of donations. Each contribution, no matter the size, brings them closer to the 25-percent mark.
"It's a statement that anything that anybody can give is a step in the right direction," said TCU President Duncan Pickard, a junior. "The fact that we are going for participation instead of a dollar amount … really speaks to that."
The TSF is the university's first major fundraising campaign to specifically target the entire student body.
Sophomore Dan Slate, one of the TSF's organizers, said he was skeptical at first about the idea of soliciting money from people who are already paying hefty tuition fees, but he noted that he has since come to see the campaign as more of a statement of unity than an intrusion.
In this case, he said that the common cause is keeping students at Tufts during the economic downturn.
"I think there's a real value in that," he said of student unity. "I think that's something that Tufts has always lacked."
According to TCU Treasurer Matt Shapanka, a senior, the fund is a way for students to take control, even if only on the level of a single student, of the university's financial well-being.
"Overall, it's just the idea of students helping students, [of them] taking ownership of the student body," he said.
The fund's sponsors also hope the campaign will plant the seed for future donations when current students become alumni.
"Creating a culture of philanthropy at Tufts where students, young alumni and the entire Tufts community can understand the importance and impact of giving has always been important," Karo said.
Apart from the cause dinner, organizers have also received online contributions and have set up a number of donation boxes around campus, including in Tisch Library and in Dowling Hall.
When this year's efforts wrap up, the financial aid office will select a recipient for the funds whose name will not be publicly released.
Karo is confident that the campaign will reach a successful end. So far, the initiative has already reached around 11 percent of the student body.
"Each generation of Tufts students has always provided for the next," she said. "In making a gift of any size to the Tufts Student Fund, our students are joining a long and proud tradition."
Tessa Gellerson contributed reporting to this article.