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Underclassmen Give In Alumni Campaign

By Apoorva Murarka

A total of 460 gifts from freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were collected during the Underclassmen Giving Campaign last week. Fifteen percent of the underclassmen donated during the UGC, totalling about $2,500. Donations ranged from $1 to $40 with the average donation being just over $5.

The UGC, a pilot program started by the MIT Alumni Association, was designed to help develop a sense of philanthropy among the underclassmen at MIT, as seniors are already contributing to the senior gift, according to UGC and Senior Gift Advisor Rosheen B. Kavanagh, fund officer for the Alumni Association. UGC will run for another week in the spring, from February 26 to March 2.

UGC’s goal is to achieve a combined 20 percent participation from the underclassmen for the two campaign weeks, 10 percent for each week. “UGC’s aim is to hit a certain level of participation from the student body rather than raising a particular amount of funds,” Kavanagh said.

“I think it is a great concept but I don’t think that going to the undergraduate body is the right way to raise funds because we do not have much money … I mean, we are starved students,” said Irina Shklyar, the Undergraduate Association McCormick Hall senator. “As a senator, I did not hear anyone from my constituency complain to me, but I have heard complaints in general.”

At the end of last week, 15 percent of the underclassmen had already contributed. Freshmen, 20 percent of whom had given to the UGC, also formed the largest percentage of the donors among the underclassmen.

“The participation levels are pretty fantastic for a week considering that last year, Senior Gift had to run from March through June to get 51 percent participation from the seniors,” Kavanagh commented.

During the week, booths for each class collected donations in Lobby 10. People donated on the spot in cash or using TechCASH and credit cards. “Campaigning is basically done in the hallway in Lobby 10 as it allows us to reach different groups of people, so hopefully we can talk to people we could not talk to in the fall,” Kavanagh said.

The funds collected during UGC will go toward the Public Service Center expedition grants to pay for MIT students to go abroad to do public service. Disaster relief trips to Pakistan and the D-Lab program have been funded by these expedition grants, Kavanagh said.

“We are not just looking for donations but we also want people to understand the importance of philanthropy and the PSC,” Kavanagh said. “PSC is a great organization on campus that students don’t have awareness of and we hope that we were able to inform them about it.”

Overall, the results of the first week of UGC were very favorable, Kavanagh said. “It was a pilot program and even if it was a small donation it was more than what we had expected — within a week in fall, we had 15 percent participation from the underclassmen and that is fantastic,” he said. “I will definitely look as it as a success and hopefully we will have another 15 percent participation level in spring,”

According to Senior Gift Chairman Dwight M. Chambers ’07, UGC will not be marketed before the spring as it is a much smaller program than the Senior Gift. The Senior Gift will kick off on Nov. 8, Chambers said, the first time that it will begin in the fall.