Day of Giving faces mixed reviews

As students, we all pay to go to Baker in one way or another, whether that be through time, talent or money. On April 4, Baker had their second annual Day of Giving. During the Day of Giving, the Office of Development contacted alumni to get donations for the University capital campaign that aims to raise $28 million. One component of the Day of Giving has received mixed reactions from students: monetary donations from the student body. The goal of having students donate now, while they are still enrolled as students, is to encourage a spirit of giving after graduation.

This approach to fundraising poses several questions for many students.

Why are we donating as students if we already pay to go to school? If students are already giving time and money right now to better the University, then why should we be asked to donate?

The money from these donations is coming back to us, the students. In a way we are giving our own money to ourselves. While this is a nice concept and can seem unifying, it is a hard sell to the average college student. Everyday, practically all day, students participate in academics and activities that bring Baker benefits. When a student excels, it is what promotes the University and brings in the all-important dollar.

Can we ask students to volunteer and communicate with alumni to instill a spirit of giving that will carry them into their post-grad life?

Giving back to Baker as a graduate is a very exciting prospect — to have enough money to give back to the place that had such a big impact on your formative years is priceless. Students should be inspired to give when they are in a situation in which it makes sense to do so. To increase students’ desire to give, have them volunteer, or call alumni to thank them for donating and offer them a chance to hear a student’s Baker story. There is more than one way to instill a spirit of giving.

What about ensuring a positive environment of learning and growth so that, one day, students will want to give back? Focus on making the experience as amazing as possible now.

Tensions regarding overcommitment, departments being stretched thin and the fading rate of student participation have been high. Instead of asking students to give more, help them understand how alumni dollars are for the betterment of their experience at Baker. Everyone has been disappointed about something in college. That’s just reality — nothing is perfect or permanent. At the end of the day, the most powerful thing Baker can do is let its students know that they are doing everything they can to make this place the very best. Baker should be listening to what students have to say and acting on their concerns, even if it is just in the form of kind words.

There are two important arguments to be made in favor of student donations: Students might not have money to spare in comparison to financially stable adults, but students are all guilty of spending $5 or more on a latte at 133 Coffee or driving to Lawrence one too many times in a month for Pizza Shuttle. Along with arguable unnecessary spending, students are here, on campus, and easy for the fundraising team to reach.

There is a pretty straightforward sacrifice to be made, though donations are still not the responsibility of students. No student should feel obligated to give their spending money to their own scholarship or the scholarship of a peer. That is all Baker is asking for — your coffee cash, not a big donation.