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Trustees' poor timing

I LOVE the Class of 2002, my class, at the University. I really do. But a phone call I received the other night made me think twice about supporting my class by giving to the class giving campaign, something I was most likely going to do. Most of all, though, it made me think about the job the Fourth-Year Trustees have done this year in raising money for the campaign - or, better put, the poor job they've done.

I am a fourth-year student who lives off Grounds. I pay bills, I buy groceries and I like to hit the bars on occasion. In other words, I have to foot the bill for much of my living expenses and most of this money comes from the cash I saved up from working a desk job over the summer.

That money, however plentiful it once was, is now pretty much gone. Like many of you, I have been living off my income tax return until the graduation gifts come rolling in.

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  • Class of 2002
  • Which brings me to the question: Should the Trustees be calling me at home, in late March, asking me for money? No, they shouldn't - not because it's an annoyance to me, but because it is a waste of time for them. Like many fourth-year students around this time of year, I don't have any money!

    I will admit that raising a substantial class gift is a daunting task. Nobody wants to give money to something that they won't receive anything back from directly. The class gift is a noble thing and fourth years should give to it to show their continuing care and support for the University upon their graduation from it. With hard work, though, a sizable gift can be raised and the alumni giving rate can be lifted from the dismal numbers they are at now - 29 percent, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings for last year - to the amazing totals that Ivy League schools such as Princeton (66 percent) rack up each year. It can be done, but the tactics used must be innovative and enticing. For the Trustees, the incentive must be good and the timing needs to be impeccably right.

    That's where the Trustees dropped the ball - timing. Just because we fourth years spent a little too much out at bars and don't have any money now doesn't mean that we didn't have a fair amount at one point during the year. If the Trustees want students to give to the class gift, they have to hit them up when they are in the spending mood, not when they are pinching every penny just to get by.

    The time to solicit gifts is in the fall when bank accounts are fresh off summer jobs and students are excited to be back in the University atmosphere. Students probably will be more willing to write a check when they know they can cover it or would be more likely to pledge a payment after graduation because it's so far off. I know that's when I would have been more likely to give, but no one called me in October. My reminders of giving to the class gift all came last week in different forms that all were ineffective.

    The first was a reminder by the Trustees as I bought a cup at Fourth-Year "Nar Bight." I feel bad for the girl asking each person as they came up for a cup if they had given yet. Students either just said no and walked off or lied like I did.

    The Trustees' tactic was grossly ineffective because no one is out to spend their money on the class gift when on the Corner on a Thursday night. Students are there for one thing and one thing only - booze. There's no sense wasting efforts trying to divert their funds or their attention.

    My second brush with the class gift came in the form of several door hangers sent out by the Development Office. They informed me that if I gave to the class gift in the name of the College of Arts & Sciences, I would be entered into a drawing for a parking space near the Rotunda during graduation weekend.

    These door hangers were just weird. They had little stories on them painting horrible pictures of whiny siblings and bitchy mothers who didn't want to walk to the ceremony. This didn't make me want to give. And it's not like they were giving out lots of spaces. I could be entered into a drawing for only one. No incentive there. But back to how weird they were - they were door hangers. I don't get it. Needless to say, they went straight into the trash.

    I have to say, though, that the Trustees got gutsy last week and decided to call me. However, during my call, I never really had the option of saying no. I think I may be billed for something after graduation. I really have no idea. Time has passed and finals draw closer and closer each day. There is no time to make up for flubbed fund raising and the Fourth Year Trustees will have to make do with those they can sucker into giving this late in the game. I haven't decided yet if I'll be one of them, but every time my phone rings, I get closer to deciding no.

    (Erin Perucci

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