Seniors donate largest-ever class gift

by Victoria Nelsen | 6/7/14 6:02am

Breaking last year’s record, the 2014 senior class gift campaign raised $34,171.81, Dartmouth College Fund class managing director Jeff Hafner ’02 said. While official donation and participation numbers will be finalized after press time, 59 percent of the Class of 2014 donated to the gift as of Wednesday, surpassing the Class of 2013’s gift total by over $9,000 despite lower participation.

The money will go toward financial aid for incoming students. This has been the case for at least nine years, Hafner said, who noted senior class gifts at many other universities do not go towards financial aid.

The Class of 1964 pledged to match donations two-to-one and to donate three times the total amount raised if the Class of 2014 campaign could break $25,000 on its own. Their total donation, which includes contributions from undergradutes and staff, totaled $137,081.50.

The 2014 class gift is the product of a four-week fundraising campaign conducted by 44 volunteers and four interns -— Anoush Arakelian ’14, Georgi Klissurski ’14, Rohail Premjee ’14 and Kate Thorstad ’14.

Although the campaign did not reach its goal of 70 percent participation, Arakelian called the effort successful because the gift totaled almost $10,000 more than the team’s goal of $25,000.

“We wanted every senior to donate, but we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy or feasible,” Arakelian said.

Klissurski said that the interns and volunteers spoke to seniors who opted not to donate, which he sees as a success of the campaign. The seniors who chose not to participate, he said, had legitimate reasons for doing so.

Looking back, Klissurski said he would have liked to engage more ’14s in the campaign.

“At the end of the day, there was a significant portion of ’14s who were not well aware of the goals of the campaign,” Klissurski said. “I think that’s reflected in the lower participation rate this year.”

In past years, the overall rate of student participation in the senior class gift has seen a decline. The Class of 2013 saw a 70 percent participation rate, lower than the Class of 2012’s 80 percent marker. Senior Class Gift donation participation peaked in 2010, with 99 percent of the class donating.

That year, student volunteers pressured those who had not contributed at their place of residence. A student-run website published the name and photo of the only classmate who declined to donate.

Hefner said that this spring donors could make their gift in honor of a specific individual, an aspect of the campaign introduced for the first time last year by the Class of 2013. Two hundred and sixty-six people chose to do this, honoring professors, parents, friends, staff members and coaches.

Among those honored this year were Torin Tucker ’15 and Blaine Steinberg ’15, who died last winter.

Klissurski said that another objective of the campaign was to offer activities to unite the class, and the campaign offered Baker Tower and steam tunnel tours to achieve this goal.

Ross Collins ’14, a volunteer, solicited donations by emailing and talking to his friends about the gift and also helped run senior gift tables, which Klissurski said were set up in Foco and Novack every Wednesday and Sunday.

Volunteer Brian Flint ’14 said he appreciates that the money goes to financial aid, which he said motivates people want to give.

Gerben Scherpbier ’14 said he donated to the senior gift for various reasons, including class pride, personal solicitation and support of the cause of financial aid.

Because of the way the campaign was run, he said, he would have felt comfortable giving as little as a dollar.