Yalies have one more day to defend their title in the blood drive contest against Harvard University.

The second annual Harvard-Yale Blood Drive Challenge, which is being held by the American Red Cross at Yale College, has not generated as much interest as it did last year, ARCY Vice President Kesi Chen ’07 said. As of Wednesday, Chen said, 382 students were signed up to donate blood, compared to the more than 400 students who signed up last year. Organizers said the goal of the event is to raise more units of blood than Harvard, which is holding a similar drive next week, and they are concerned that ARCY may not attract enough donors before the drive ends today.

The two-year-old competition — which is co-sponsored by the Southern Connecticut Chapter of the Red Cross — includes free T-shirt giveaways, a raffle in which students can win an iPod Shuffle, and a stipulation that if Harvard wins, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey will wear a Harvard cap for a day.

“The event started last year as a way of stirring up some friendly competition in helping the needy,” Chen said.

Wen Fan ’08, who is coordinating the drive, said the donated blood is needed badly in hospitals around the state. In Connecticut, an average of approximately 600 units of blood are used each day, and demand increases during the winter because of a higher incidence of accidents and a lower number of regular donors, she said.

Fan said she hopes that making the blood drive a competition will motivate Yalies to donate.

“Harvard and Yale have had this very long rivalry in sports and academics,” she said. “I think it’s important to use this rivalry to help the community.”

ARCY organizers said they hope to collect more than the 314 pints of usable blood — compared to Harvard’s 250 pints — collected last year. Since some people are turned away because they have traveled to malaria or AIDS-infected areas or because their blood has a low iron count, Chen said, not all donated blood is usable.

ARCY President Irving Ye ’07 said the reason for this year’s decreased turnout could be that the organization had fewer volunteers signing people up in dining halls.

“Our campaign was very similar to what it was last year, but for some reason, I don’t think the campus is as aware,” Ye said.

Several students who did not give blood said they were either unaware that the drive was taking place or uncomfortable with needles. But some had other reasons, too.

“I didn’t give blood because I am on an athletic team and it wouldn’t be good for training,” Joe Beck ’08 said.

Joan Bennett, an account executive with the local Red Cross Chapter and regional blood drive director, said it is essential that students come out to give blood.

“While the drive has been going pretty well, between the hours of 10:30 and 12:30, we could use more donors,” she said. “It’s really critical that donors come out and make the effort.”

Eve Fine ’07, who donated blood on Tuesday, said giving blood was a relatively easy but important gesture.

“It is a small but very easy way for me to contribute to the health of the community,” Fine said.

Chen said every contribution to the drive is useful.

“One unit of blood can save up to three lives, so it’s really important,” Chen said.

The blood drive is being held from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. today in Payne Whitney Gymnasium’s Lee Auditorium.

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