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Sr. Gift Committee Establishes Fund to Aid Student Activites

By Frank Dabek
associate news editor

Fundraising for the 1997 Senior Class Gift officially began this week with a kick-off on Sunday, 97 days before Commencement. The committee will begin soliciting pledges on Monday.

Profits from the gift drive are being placed in a fund called Students Promoting an Improved Campus Experience which will be used to assist student groups on campus.

The goal of the gift drive is to solicit $100,000 in pledges over five years from this year's seniors. But even though a monetary goal has been set, "participation is much more important," said Coordinator of Student Programs in the Alumni Office Jill Pullen, who serves as the group's adviser.

The gift drive hopes to receive pledges from fifty percent of the class. Participation in last year's drive was only 6.9 percent, a figure that has already been surpassed by preliminary giving this year.

SPICEfund this year's project

The SPICE fund will be a general purpose fund to help activities on campus. "The SPICE fund applies to all of campus because everyone does some kind of activity at MIT," said Chairman of the Senior Gift Committee Pang Lee '97.

Additionally, "MIT activities are very poorly funded compared to other schools," Lee said. TheSPICEfund was the result of a search for a program to promote student life.

"We are responding to what students ask us to do," said Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Robert R. Randolph, who will oversee the SPICEfund after the senior class graduates. The fund will be used for "projects for the whole campus" and for student groups with limited resources, he added.

Though the SPICE fund is this year's project, donors can earmark their donations for other projects such as student financial aid, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Independent Residence Development Fund, a fund to provide low-interest, long-term loans to independent living groups, Athletics, or for unrestricted use.

Recent senior class projects have also focused on student life. In 1996, the project was to improve community service. Helping to better fund the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program was the goal of the 1995 gift. The 1994 gift was "The Source,"an information booth in the Student Center. The recycling bins around campus are a result of the 1993 senior gift project.

Committee structure changes

Major changes were made to the structure of the gift drive this year. The committee this year will consist of more than 100 students, representing every living group. Five students will form a "core" and twelve will serve as captains, each coordinating several of the solicitors.

The "enthusiasm on the committee is unbelievable," Pullen said. The drive has already exceeded last year's participation since every member of the committee is donating to the drive, she added.

"It's easier to give money if you feel personally connected," Lee said. "All solicitations will be personal," and no phone calls will be made.

Class Gift educates' seniors

Giving is important because "the senior gift program educates seniors" to give to MIT as alumni, Pullen said. Alumni gifts "make MIT a better place" and the program was designed to "keep the momentum going," she added. MIT should "not depend solely on ... grants."

According to the alumni fund office, $24,768,000 was donated by 30,509 individual alumni last year.

An MIT education costs about twice what students pay in tuition, Lee said. "A lot of the money that runs MIT actually comes from alumni," he added.

"It is very important for the endowment to have alumni giving," Pullen said.

Solicitations will begin on Monday. "We're looking to break the record of 29 percent,"Pang said. Any seniors still interested in becoming involved with the senior gift can send e-mail to giftcore@mit.edu.