Senior Class Fund aims higher with new initiatives

Vanderbilt on Saturday, August 18, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

The Vanderbilt Senior Class Fund has implemented changes to increase student involvement this year, including an emphasis on underclassmen, new partnerships on campus and higher participation goals.

The Vanderbilt Senior Class Fund is an organization that solicits student donations from the Vanderbilt community. The main goal of the group is to encourage students to donate to the fund in order to provide amenities to future students, as well as help alumni get in the habit of donating, Communications Chair Rebecca Jacobson said.

“It’s important for the future students who come to this school to ensure that they are able to experience the same things we are able to,” she said.

This idea of instilling the habit of donating in students has resonated in some seniors. Senior Winson Du intends to donate to demonstrate his loyalty to the school, he said.

“I think there’s a lot initiatives on campus that could use more funding, and I want to contribute my bit after I leave,” Du said.

Vanderbilt Senior Class Fund has made changes this year, including new partnerships with the Black Cultural Center, Relay for Life and VUcept, Jacobson said.

Other changes include an increased focus on getting underclassman involved and higher participation percentage goals than last year. Percentage goals are important because reaching certain benchmarks are contingent for Board of Trustees Member and CEO of Cox Communications Alex Taylor to supplement student donations, she said.

If 86 percent of seniors donate, then Taylor has pledged to donate $50,000 to Vanderbilt, and if 90 percent of seniors donate, then he will donate $100,000. This is increased from last year, which were 78 and 85 percent, respectively.

Student support is also important due to the huge portion of campus life covered by donations. Tuition only covers 70 percent of amenities, and the other 30 percent is covered by donors, Jacobson said.

“That’s really important for students to know because a lot of people think that ‘I’m already paying for everything for my experience, so why would I pay more to the school?’” she said, “But, that’s actually not the case.”

An incentive to encourage students to participate is the option to guide a donation to a particular sect of campus life, Jacobson said. Students can specify recipients such as campus dining or their Greek Life organization when making a donation.

Another factor to consider when contemplating donating is the impact student donations have on the U.S. News college rankings, Jacobson said. The percentage of alumni that gives back factors as five percent of the overall ranking.

“It’s interesting to consider that if students do give back to the school, you’re technically increasing the value of your degree,” she said.

To garner maximum support, the club focuses on soliciting small donations.

“We’re not asking students to give a certain amount beyond one dollar,” she said. “If students give back even the smallest amount, it’s encouraging them not only to give in the future, but it also supports future students being able to experience the same if not better than what you were able to.”

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