Mordini: Unseating the gift of park benches

Jessie Markovetz

The other night, I was on duty in my room when the phone rang. It was a freshman calling to ask if I was familiar with an insidious entity calling itself the Villanova Annual Fund, the sole function of which is to suck the blood of the innocent by night as a means of survival.

Just kidding. Actually, the fund is where rich alumni pour lots of money so that the University can stay afloat. Villanova happens to have a poor endowment, so I imagine this office is plenty busy seeking funds, especially if they’re calling seniors who have yet to graduate.

But it turns out this is an annual tradition of the development office, which has earned the heartwarming moniker of senior gift.

In other words, it’s not enough for graduating seniors to consider hunting down and sorting through employment and graduate school prospects while trying to stay motivated at their studies for the last semester. We also have to deal with giving to the Villanova Annual Fund, the letters of which can be rearranged to spell – and don’t tell me this is mere coincidence – Nun Found Vanilla Lava.

According to an e-mail sent out by a group of students who apparently have no qualms about asking for donations from financially strapped classmates, the senior gift “is our way of saying thank you to our soon-to-be alma mater, while also helping to ensure that future students benefit from the same wonderful experiences we have enjoyed.”

Now, even if it is evil to expect students whose families have spent more than $100,000 on a Villanova education to donate money to the school before they’ve even graduated, at least that sounds like an honorable way to use the money.

Except that’s not where the money always goes. Take a stroll through the grotto, as I do between classes twice a week, and have a good look at the park benches, one of which was the gift of the Class of 1989.

That’s right. A park bench in the grotto.

I personally can’t think of a better way to ensure that the next generation of Villanovans will benefit from our wonderful experiences, unless you count something actually useful like renovating the library or building a performing arts center. Is a bench really worth selling your morals to try to claim a few bucks from graduating seniors?

The e-mail also caught my interest when it reminded readers that students who contribute to the gift fund will not have to pay for the senior week trip to the iconic Philadelphia Irish pub Finnigan’s Wake, the name of which they misspelled in the message.

Yes. Ask me for money in an e-mail in which you spell things wrong so that I feel even more confident about my Villanova education and where all the money went.

Seriously speaking, though, one should realize there is no serious speaking in this column. But what I find tasteless is that we have to pay for senior week events at all.

I could possibly understand charging admittance to the dinner dance, since it is the main event, but forcing seniors to pay their way through the entire week means that some people will have to pick and choose what events their wallets can attend, especially after expenses like spring break, Radnor police-issued speeding tickets, shopping for the latest metrosexual garb, paying for a meal at the Belle Air Terrace, etc.

My understanding of senior week is that it’s supposed to be a time to have fun and enjoy oneself one last time in the company of good friends. So to really make sure that’s the case, the University needs to find a way to make these events free. At least for me. Otherwise, when I strike it rich down the road and Villanova decides they want benches installed along the South campus trail, they’ll have to go somewhere else for their sugar. See you on the crawl.