Senior class gives more than ever

Five residential colleges achieved 100 percent participation in the 2011 Senior Class Gift Campaign. The campaign raised over $40,000, a record.
Five residential colleges achieved 100 percent participation in the 2011 Senior Class Gift Campaign. The campaign raised over $40,000, a record. Photo by Jordi Gassó.

The 2011 Senior Class Gift Campaign is the most successful one in its 14-year history.

While final tallies are expected Friday, preliminary numbers show that this year’s three-week campaign raised over $40,000 in donations and achieved more than 97 percent class participation — more than any previous class since the tradition began in 1997. Haley Cohen ’11 and Tully McLoughlin ’11, the campaign co-chairs, attributed their success to a motivated class and a carefully thought-out fundraising strategy.

Senior Class Gift
Senior Class Gift

Although the campaign’s goal was 100 percent participation, Cohen and McLoughlin said they are not disappointed by the final numbers.

“We’re trying to see the glass as 97 percent full,” Cohen said.

To add to the campaign’s success, an anonymous donor who had previously offered to give $100,000 to financial aid for study abroad programs if full class participation was achieved decided to donate the money anyway, they added.

The 2011 results are part of an upward trend in giving and participation since 2009. For the class of 2010, fundraising resulted in a grand total of $29,670 in collected donations with 91 percent class participation.

“The class of 2010 set the standards pretty high,” said Jocelyn Polce, assistant director of the Yale Alumni Fund.

The co-chairs said they made several departures from previous methods that may have contributed to their success. Cohen said the 2011 campaign was the first to have a specific theme: the slogan “Yes We Dan” with an original Handsome Dan logo. This brand helped keep up seniors’ energy throughout the process, McLoughlin said.

Cohen said the volunteer team focused on publicity this year to keep their class engaged. Polce said 160 seniors volunteered with the campaign this year, compared to 133 in 2010.

But the campaign presented a number of challenges as well. The co-chairs said their attempts to communicate the campaign’s purpose and goals to their classmates were sometimes misunderstood as pushiness. At times, they said, their excitement about the possibility of reaching 100 percent participation were interpreted as harassment.

Some seniors interviewed raised personal concerns about the Senior Class Gift Campaign. For example, several said they believe that an institution as wealthy as Yale does not need their money, while others said they plan to give to the University some day, but do not feel in a position to do so as graduating seniors.

One student who did not donate, Gant Elmore ’11, said he made the choice because of what he saw as University President Richard Levin’s “bias against recruited athletes.” Elmore, a varsity baseball player, argued that throughout Levin’s time at Yale, the president has deliberately tried to reduce the number of recruited athletes. Elmore said he has decided not to give to Yale until that trend is reversed.

Cohen said it was sometimes hard for volunteers to tell which seniors were not donating because of ideological reasons and which just hadn’t gotten around to it and needed a reminder.

2010 Campaign co-chair Olivia Wheeler ’10 said she experienced many of the same difficulties attempting to win over people who were adamantly against donating, and called the 97 percent participation rate “uncanny.” She added that although her class did not reach the 97 percent bar set by 2011, she was not disappointed by the results of the campaign she led.

Of the 41 students who did not donate, some were “hard to reach” from a fundraising perspective, McLoughlin said. For example, volunteers had to work harder to get in touch with transfer students, people who took a gap year and students who live off campus.

Five residential colleges — Calhoun, Ezra Stiles, Jonathan Edwards, Saybrook and Silliman — reached 100 percent participation.

Ben Prawdzik contributed reporting.


  • yale_senior

    Gant is only bringing a bad name to recruited athletes. Athletes at Yale have a long history supporting the institution and breaking such support, and in such a public way, only adds fuel to the fire for those who want to see recruited athletes out of Yale.

  • AndyMegee

    At least Gant has the integrity to explain why he did not want to donate and has his name attached to that explanation. More than can be said for you, “yale_senior.”

  • yale_athlete

    Gant brings up a very good point that I completely agree with. You can go both ways with this point that yale_senior made. Yale University has also had a long history in supporting its student athletes and this support is being eliminated by Levin’s new policy. By publicly discriminating against the group of people who bring more to the university than people give them credit for, student athletes, Yale is pushing athletes away from supporting the university and giving back after college. The system that had been in place has worked and recruited athletes have given back to the university in the past. Why try to change it now?

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    “The system that had been in place has worked” if we define “working” as leading to a wider and wider academic achievement gap between recruited athletes and the rest of the student body, a recent phenomenon well documented in several published studies. Levin’s concern is that if something is not changed now, then this gap will widen even more. Yale remains eager to support its athletes, but wants to put the academic profile of recruits back in line with the profile of the non-recruit population.

    In simple political terms, though, I wonder if Mr. Gant has miscalculated where the majority sympathy actually lies. Is this an issue that might resolve itself more favorably for athletes if kept hush hush? Most students have no idea that recruited athletes benefit from a separate admissions scheme, and those who do know this (along with alums, grad. students, postdocs, lecturers, lab techs, professors, etc.) might be failing to complain only out of complacency.

    Were the YDN, for example, to produce a simple timeline of Yale’s evolving recruiting policies set against the trajectory of recruited-athlete academic statistics over the last few decades, it would change some opinions, but probably not in the way Mr. Gant would like!

    I’d even wager that American Sports Fan X, though he’s all for doling out schollys to illiterates at tOSU, USC, Georgia, etc., would find it silly and borderline objectionable that *Yale* dilutes its true strengths by favoring recruits of dubious academic credentials, especially when these recruits tend not to play at an elite level. It’s a coin flip how someone like, say, Jim Rome, would take this news. The sports-commentator rant is as likely to be anti-Yale-recruit as pro-Yale-recruit.

    Mr. Gant should organize a rally, lead a march, forfeit a game or two, and get all of the major media outlets to cover this Yale Recruited Athlete Injustice. It would be interesting to see how it turned out!

  • eli1

    Good for you, Gant. I was thinking about doing something similar, however the daily harassment I encountered with 5+ phone calls and 5+ emails daily from people I didn’t know was enough to finally break me. The sense of entitlement shown by the organizers, especially towards people with very rational reasons like Gant, really turned me off to giving.

  • Y_2011

    I’m not a recruited athlete, so I don’t particularly care about the issues Gant was concerned about, but I think it is Gant right to decide where he spends his money. In fact, I don’t think Gant had to supply a reason if he didn’t want to.

    I also didn’t donate, and it was obnoxious how I was contacted by people who tried to use whatever tenuous relationship they had with me to convince me to do so. No, I do not want to meet up with you and “chat” about my concerns. If I had to do that every time I didn’t donate money to a cause there would be no time for me to do anything else. What makes the SCG so special I don’t understand. I had intended to give, but I’d been waiting to see how much money I could afford based on employment outcomes. The tactics were such a turnoff I decided to take that money and donate it to something else.

  • 11

    I didn’t donate either. I’m not vehemently opposed to SCG at all, i just didn’t see a lot of compelling reasons to participate. I kind of wish I had now that i know only 41 people didn’t. But it still felt a little slimy to me that it was a Yale organized initiative calling itself the senior class gift. I would have been more easily convinced were it an initiative like feb club that was organized by the senior class, without Yale sponsored training in fund raising tactics.