Since 1998, Yale seniors have been donating money to the Yale Alumni Fund as the senior class gift. The Alumni Fund is the vehicle through which Yale seniors, alumni, parents and friends can donate flexible funds for the University’s current use, providing critical funding for all of Yale’s core priorities. The dollars raised by the Alumni Fund are used every year for programs like financial aid, construction and facilities renovation, library collections and a wide variety of undergraduate programs.
Of course, we all know Yale has a large endowment, but very little of that restricted money can actually be dedicated to Yale’s yearly operating budget (it only covers about 30 percent), so Alumni Fund gifts are really crucial to maintaining and improving the undergraduate experience we’ve had at Yale. You can designate that your gift go to support an aspect of Yale that is particularly important to you; for example, many students choose to designate their gifts to the financial aid or undergraduate life programs, as Josh Eidelson urged students to do in these pages a few weeks ago (“Seniors: In donations, look beyond just cash,” 2/7).
Giving back to Yale through the Senior Class Gift Program is about allowing future students to enjoy an even better quality of experiences than those to which we were privileged. By donating to the Alumni Fund you are not expressing unqualified approval of all of Yale’s policies or communicating to the administration that it is perfect; rather, you are making a powerful statement through supporting those programs (such as financial aid) to which you wish the administration would be able to allocate more dollars.
Emily Scharfman ’05, a former Senior Class Gift Committee co-chair, expressed our sentiments exactly when she was quoted in the News a year ago, stating, “I genuinely think it’s important for people to recognize that Yale and all of the benefits we’ve received couldn’t exist without the support of its alumni, despite the gripes with the administration we may have.”
In the past, classes have raised around $20,000 for the University and have achieved participation rates of up to 83 percent. The most important part of this initiative is to educate seniors about giving back to Yale and to inspire them to take meaningful action in furthering Yale’s future. The senior class gift is a five-year pledge, with seniors making a gift to the Alumni Fund before graduating and pledging a gift for each of the four subsequent years.
We are now getting near the end of the senior class gift campaign. With less than one week to go, 28 percent of seniors have participated, and have raised just over $9,061 so far. In order to meet the precedents set by previous classes, we must finish the campaign strong with a record-setting number of gifts. As we near graduation, think about what Yale means to you and the memories you’ve collected during your time here — and make your donations accordingly.
Austin Broussard is a senior in Morse College. Allegra Leitner is a senior in Pierson College. They are the senior class gift co-chairs.