The Senior Class Gift Team has been campaigning for the Yale class of 2020 to donate towards future generations of students. Instead, the Alternative Senior Class Gift asks students to redirect their contributions to New Haven communities.
Yale’s foundation rests upon Indigenous dispossession, the profits and direct use of slave labor and continues to operate at the cost of New Haveners. As Yale students, we are implicated in this history; we owe the city and its residents deep responsibility and accountability. Students have directly and indirectly benefited from the labor of community groups. New Haveners have also been both critical support and the impetus for issues of on-campus activism, such as the Calhoun College name change and the climate crisis.
Yale has a multi-billion dollar endowment and still maintains a tax-exempt status in New Haven. Though Yale regularly commits to new promises like job creation, it continues to disappoint. Our experience has been shaped by the people who will sustain New Haven long after we graduate: the small business owners, the municipal workers, the artists, activists and more. Though the Alternative Senior Class Gift is not even close to fulfilling this debt, we hope that it will remind students of where our dollars should go to instead of Yale. Especially for those who have already signed the pledge to not donate to an endowment invested in Puerto Rican debt and fossil fuels, we hope the gift is a way to show the future classes of Yale College that it is imperative for students to contend critically with what the University asks of us.
This year, we’ve selected the following four organizations that are doing amazing work in New Haven: the Connecticut Bail Fund, Integrated Immigrant and Refugee Services (IRIS), Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) and the Yale Prison Education Initiative. The Connecticut Bail Fund pays bails for people who are caged due to poverty. Integrated Immigrant and Refugee Services offers legal, educational and resettlement services to immigrants and refugees in the New Haven area. Unidad Latina en Accion is a grassroots social justice organization that combines direct action, legal action and education to create systemic change. Finally, the Yale Prison Education Initiative, which does not receive funding from the University, brings rigorous, for-credit Yale College courses to incarcerated students in Connecticut prisons. All are political and direct service pillars of the community, upholding the values of leadership and justice that we hope the senior class will carry forward as we graduate to the next step of our lives.
We are now accepting donations to our Venmo account: @AltGift2020. Students and alumni of all classes are welcome to donate. Donators should include their college and year and a note on whether they want to support one of the aforementioned organizations or give to the general pool. Our Facebook page will feature more information on the donation recipients, the class participation and other non-monetary opportunities to get involved in New Haven during our final semester.
ANNIE CHENG is a senior in Ezra Stiles College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
DIANA SAAVEDRA is a senior in Trumbull College. Contact her at email@example.com .
STEPHEN EARLY is a senior in Berkeley College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .