Gift for the Greener Good: Senior Class Gift Sets the Standard



Meaghan Haire

The Class of 2008 has much more in mind for their senior class gift than a pretty sculpture for the quad or extra scholarships for prospective students. The senior class will be contributing their funds to create Colgate’s Environmental Sustainability Fund. This gift will help foster the movement to make Colgate a more environmentally friendly campus. This will be done through initiatives to support sustainability at Colgate, promote improvements to Colgate’s open and forested lands and encourage an increase in environmentally minded speakers and conferences on campus.

“The Class of 2008 wants to give back something active that will have a lasting effect on everyone, not just those going abroad or on specific alternative break trips,” Julia Heymans, a member of the Senior Class Gift Giving Committee, commented.

The Senior Class Gift Giving Committee consists of 32 seniors. They meet once a week with Annual Fund Development Officer Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski to discuss ideas for the gift and fundraising tactics. Earlier this semester the Gift Giving Committee came up with three potential ideas, which they submitted to a vote by the Senior Class through an online survey. The three ideas put forth for consideration were contributions to either: the Environmental Sustainability Fund, an Upstate Institute fellowship or the Sophomore Year Experience Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Alternative Spring Break Trip.

After over 50 percent of the votes went to the Environmental Sustainability Fund, they knew they had a clear winner that the Class of 2008 would be able to get excited about. The Senior Class Gift Giving Committee has set the bar high this year with a challenge of 90 percent participation.

“Last year, the Class of 2007 reached their challenge of 88 percent participation, so we are feeding off of last year’s success and really emphasizing participation. We want seniors to give as much as they want, whether that’s $20.08 or even less,” Senior Class Gift Giving Committee Board Member Jennifer Leen mentioned.

An extra incentive for this year’s senior class is that whatever they contribute will potentially end up having double the effect on the eventual total. A number of members of the Board of Trustees, which includes a few Senior Class parents, have decided to match all the funds that the seniors are able to raise.

The Class of 2008’s contributions will go toward the work of Colgate’s Environmental Council, which, currently unfunded, researches and puts forth many of the green movement ideas on campus. According to Leen and Heymans, some ideas being brainstormed for possible sources of the Senior Class gift funds are potentially building a windmill near campus, expanding the steam plant in an environmentally friendly way, funding recycling initiatives and promoting bicycle usage on campus. The Senior Class Gift Giving Committee is going to have a liaison on the Environmental Council, and later this year, the Council will put forth ideas for a tangible green friendly source for the Senior Class Gift fund.

The senior class gift is particularly important this year because of Colgate’s 2008 College Sustainability Report Card Rating of D+. In an academic atmosphere where a D+ is anything but acceptable, this is especially frightening for the Colgate campus and all the more telling of why the Senior Class gift will have such a significant impact.

The Senior Class Gift Giving Committee will be holding a number of events this semester to encourage participation amongst their classmates in hopes of reaching their 90 percent goal. Already this semester, the committee provided free pizza at Dorm Reunions, a tailgate at Homecoming and an October 4 ceremony for the proclamation of the gift at the Colgate Inn. And there are still many events to come, such as the traditional Tollhouse Cookie Pie Party at the Colgate Inn once they reach 50 percent participation. There is no current statistic of participation to report just yet, because collections only started last Sunday, October 28.

According to Gonzalez, they have already begun to receive gifts and the committee hopes to reach the 50 percent mark by the end of the semester.