If you’re a Yale senior considering making a gift to the University of Pennsylvania’s annual fund, stop right now.
Because even a cursory look at promotional videos made by Penn and Yale seniors for their respective senior class gifts leads me to this conclusion: Yale is a much, much better school with much, much more interesting people.
About 73 seconds into a video made by last year’s Penn seniors, a student makes this proclamation: “I love Penn because I’m surrounded each and every day by people who challenge me.”
More like people who bore me. In the film, which lasts just under two minutes, a litany of Penn seniors proclaims love for school and for each other.
At Yale, we have a flair for the dramatic. A video contest was started this year to promote the senior class gift. Four seniors entered films, and the two winners put the Penn (and Duke and every other school) videos to shame.
The two Yale films are also markedly different from each other.
One, made by Felicia Resor ’09, is a roughly three-minute video illustration. Using five examples of gifts made to Yale over its 308-year history, Resor illustrates — by hand, with Sharpie drawings of everything from a Van Gogh painting that hangs in the Yale University Art Gallery to a weight room in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium — the impact that donations have on student life.
“I was trying to think of what you can give to the school that has everything,” she told me. “I mean, what do you give a school that has a Gutenberg bible? There’s nowhere to go from there.”
Except there is. Resor ends her film with the question, written in blue pen on plain lined paper, “What will we give the Yale of tomorrow?”
Organizers of the senior class gift hope to give the Yale of tomorrow more than $20,000, through gifts from their classmates. Resor’s film, which she made in one weekend, will no doubt help them raise funds.
After all, I almost made a gift after watching the video — even though I’m only a sophomore. (My other reaction was more physical, as my hand felt tired after watching Resor write and draw away for so long.)
A film directed by Alexander Dominitz ’09 also won accolades in the contest. It is an elaborate, elegantly produced video that stars English professor Murray Biggs as an alumnus remembering a dinner date during his senior year at Yale.
The young male Eli, played by Dan Amerman ’10, takes a very hot Justine Kolata ’12 to dinner at Union League Café. They then walk to Mory’s, making a detour to Gourmet Heaven so Amerman can buy a rose for his date.
But once at Mory’s, disaster strikes. When the young man is asked to make a donation to Yale, he looks down and finds his wallet empty. So the girl leaves him.
Fast-forward several decades, and Biggs reappears, saying, “It isn’t enough to care — you have to care about the right things. And that’s why I went back.” At Mory’s once more, Biggs cuts a generous check — to the applause of Yale College Dean Mary Miller and others — but finds his sweetheart married to another alum.
Dominitz spotted (and recruited) Kolata while in Commons, but little else about the film seems accidental. Instead, it is a tight production, made in mere days, that benefits greatly from Biggs’ lilted baritone and Dominitz’s director’s eye.
If there is anything uncomfortable about the film, it is the notion that Kolata’s character only cares about her date’s money. But Dominitz was quick to point out that the girl says the rose and dinner “didn’t matter” and that she really cares about what all seniors should care about — giving to Yale.
The contest’s judges included Provost Peter Salovey and Miller, along with Jack Thomas ’80, vice chair of the Yale Alumni Annual Fund. Each winner will receive $500.
But Yale may get some of that money back.
After all, how could the folks behind these fine videos not donate to Old Eli? They could accidentally give to Penn.
WATCH THE VIDEOS: