After a three-week long fundraising campaign, donations to the Yale College class of 2015 gift closed at midnight on Tuesday.
As of 1 a.m. Tuesday, the Senior Class Gift website reported that 69.1 percent of seniors had raised $21,277 during the campaign. However, the campaign’s website, as of press time, had not been updated for 25 hours, and this year’s SCG co-chairs noted that they were still processing final donations. The co-chairs also declined to release an updated estimate of the percentage of seniors who had participated.
The Senior Class Gift, which is a part of the Yale Alumni Fund, provides unrestricted and immediate funds that are independent of the endowment. Last year’s senior gift had a 96.6 percent participation rate, but this year, a boycott of the Class Gift was organized in an effort to pressure Yale to improve its mental health and readmission policies.
A pledge, co-authored by seven seniors, had 100 signatures on Tuesday night, constituting 6.2 percent of the class of 2015. Students interviewed agreed that because the fundraising campaign tends to have such high participation, the gift is an opportunity to send a message to the University.
“I think this is the only time we actively have a chance to make a point to the University,” said Shalmoli Halder ’15, who boycotted the Class Gift.
Halder said the boycott is a response to long-standing problems with the way Yale Mental Health handles cases of student depression and readmission, adding that “a lot of seniors share this sentiment.”
A low participation rate from seniors would not be unprecedented. A quarter of the class of 2003 did not give to the SCG. Still, on average, Yale tends to have a higher participation rate in class gifts than other Ivy League schools. By comparison, the Harvard class of 2014 achieved only 78 percent class participation.
Two seniors who contributed to the SCG, Maneesh Vij ’15 and Eric Stern ’15 — who is a residential college representative for the gift — said they sympathize with the cause of boycotters but not with their method.
“I think there are better ways to protest, better ways to get the message out there,” Vij said. “It’s unfair to boycott the senior gift.”
The SGC has reached over 91 percent participation rate every one of the last five years. The average gift amount raised over those years is $34,895.
Adrian Lo ’15 said he took issue with the way the fundraising campaigns are run. Monetary incentives from alumni for the largest individual contributions have socioeconomic class implications, said Lo.
“It gives preference to people who are able to give,” he added.
Lo cited the Nathan Hale Associates program, which incentivizes contributions by referring to those seniors who donate $100 as people whose “leadership serves to inspire the efforts of all at Yale to provide the very best opportunities in higher education.”
The minimum donation threshold for the SCG this year was $5.
Halder said that while students have been discussing the University’s mental health problems for a long time, she thought the death of Luchang Wang ’17 sparked many conversations and caused the boycott in the short term. Lo suggested that the boycott was the culmination of years of debate over Yale Mental Health and Yale’s readmission policies.
“People don’t come up with ideas of boycotting the gift overnight,” Lo said. “These things have been in the mix over a long time.”
The current SCG campaign structure, which is led annually by four co-chairs, was created in 1997.