Senior giving falls behind
Organizational changes, reluctant leadership and a lack of contributors hindered this year’s senior class gift to the Oberlegacy Senior Scholarship Fund, which will be presented May 29 at the President’s Picnic.
Seniors who wanted their class gift to have an immediate and tangible impact on students started the scholarship three years ago. Many seniors’ donations come from their $200 matriculation deposit, which seniors have traditionally put toward the senior class gift, or kept for themselves. The fund is a restricted current-use scholarship given to at least two upcoming seniors in good academic standing who have demonstrated extreme financial need. The scholarship is intended to help students who might not be able to afford their last year to graduate.
According to Oberlin Fund Director Tip Hosack, this year’s fund is at about $17,000, surpassing last year’s total of $15,000. That said, seniors have contributed about $5,100 of it, which is less than seniors gave last year. The rest of the total came from contributions by parents and alumni.
Senior Class Vice President Jamie Frankel said that much of the difficulty in fundraising came from having to switch advisors in the middle of the year.
“We threw a senior party at the ’Sco in the fall but after that we didn’t have a lot of events,” Frankel said. “We are still sending out e-mails every week to the people who haven’t donated money.”
Senior Class President Melvin Jimenez said that Oberlegacy was not funded enough to help many students finish their education, but that it shouldn’t be seniors’ problem.
“I think that it shouldn’t be the seniors who provide the money for the Oberlegacy fund,” Jimenez said. “I think the administration should take care of it. If some [students] have been here for three years and have done the work, they should be the administration’s responsibility.”
Jimenez said many seniors wanted their money to go elsewhere.
“A lot of seniors wanted to provide for other organizations like the Rachel Beverly fund, or the Theater or Art programs,” Jimenez said.
Aaron Mucciolo, OC ’02, who has been working with the College on current donations, said he had heard concerns from current students, recent graduates and alumni about the College’s commitment to financial aid for high-need students. He said giving to Oberlegacy was a good way for those who say they’re concerned to show it.
“It’s a good way to show that we do care,” Mucciolo said. “We can know that two students below us do have large financial aid packages and would not be able to be here without financial aid. Oberlegacy is a great way of acknowledging this.”
Hosack said the fund did more than help fulfill a need for current use scholarships, though.
“It helps instill a philanthropic spirit in students,” Hosack said. “People think their $5 or $10 dollars makes no difference, but it all adds up. If students see the impact of their contributions they may give more and more regularly in the future.”
Hosack said the amount of people giving to Oberlin affected its rankings, and that giving was a good way to stay in touch with the College.
Hosack said underclassmen should understand the fund’s importance.
“They may be recipients of it down the road,” Hosack said.