Senior Class Gift

Alex Kurland, Staff Illustrator

After four years of lectures, shared adventures, and lifelong memories, the 2013 Senior Class Council now asks the class of 2013 to contribute to the Class Gift Campaign and take the first step into the community of UR alumni.

Dubbed “Keep the Light Burning” — named after the ceremony on their first night as freshmen at the annual candlelight ceremony on Eastman Quadrangle — the campaign is a fundraising opportunity that allows current seniors to “give back” to the University.

Similar to the 2012 Senior Class Council, the 2013 Senior Class Council did not set a specific monetary goal for the campaign. Rather, it hopes to reach a level of 50 percent participation — approximately 520 seniors — by graduation on May 19. After one month, the campaign currently has 13 percent participation.

“Last year’s Senior Class Council set some amazing records, and I am very pleased that this year’s council is keeping pace and even exceeding them,” Director of Wilson Commons Laura Ballou said. She added that the campaign is “really something that students only hear about when they become seniors.”

Misconceptions regarding the campaign also exist in some form. One fallacy among students is that tuition covers the entirety of UR-related expenses. In actuality, the costs for tuition constitute only 70 percent of educational funding, and the rest is funded by alumni gifts.

Additionally, while past classes have donated physical gifts, such as the clocks in Hirst Lounge by the class of 2007, seniors may donate however much they’d like to whomever they’d like.

“We really want the seniors to give to the place they’re passionate about,” administrative co-chair for the 2013 Senior Class Council and senior Eric DeMeo said. “Buying the school some new clocks or a bench may not mean much to each and every senior. With this campaign, students are allowed to direct their gift to the part of the school that is most important to them.”

Seniors can choose to donate to over 250 specific funds, such as an athletic team, Rush Rhees Library, or the Eastman School of Music, to name a few. According to Assistant Director of Recent Graduate Engagement Crisandra Harrison, the top three funds that currently receive the highest number of donations are the Study Abroad office, the Rochester Annual Fund, and the Dean’s Fund for the Dean of Students, which supports the Greek community. Overall, 66 different funds have already received gifts from the senior class.

Harrison, who works closely with the administrative chairs of the Council, stressed the role that donations may have in the way the University is ranked in the U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings, where the University currently ranks #33. In the rankings methodology, alumni giving accounts for 5 percent and is one of seven factors.

“It is the factor that can most easily be impacted directly by our seniors and alumni,” Harrison said. “The more people who give, the greater the chance of improving rankings drastically as the differentiation between ranked schools comes down to fractions of decimal points. The Senior Class Gift Campaign is being counted into this year’s alumni giving rankings, so the more seniors who donate any amount , the greater impact there will be on national rankings.”

Though the gift campaign is primarily the council’s undertaking, Alumni Relations and Advancement also aids the council on the “advancement end,” DeMeo noted. Dean of Students Matthew Burns is also supporting the campaign by giving $5 dollars for every one percent of participation in the effort.

In the spirit of motivating seniors, the Council has organized a series of events to promote donations. From Feb. 25 to March 1, the Council will table in Wilson Commons. On March 1, the Council will hold a fiesta in Hirst Lounge from 4 to 6 p.m. that will feature free food, cash bar beverages, piñatas, and various prizes. Other upcoming events include a senior night on March 21 and a graduation fair on March 27.

Kerem is a member of the class of 2015.

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