Nowak: Senior gift needs to provide tangible items

Erica Nowak

It’s just about that time when all the seniors say goodbye to the student’s life and become one with the working world. Upon becoming alumni, there is something that is expected of you. Good behavior, success and a winning smile are all part of the deal, but the hidden agenda is that of being a generous donor to the University.

Now mind you, when I become a rich and famous alumni with a six-figure salary, I will have no problem whatsoever donating loads of money to my soon to be alma mater that I love dearly. However, when the University starts asking me for money before I reach such an elite status, that’s when I have a problem.

This happened about a month or so ago when I received mail from the Office of University Development. It was in reference to the Senior Gift.

After realizing what the deal was, my roommates and I ripped up the flyers. Before destroying the paraphernalia, we read the announcement: “…The gift helps provide student financial aid, library resources, laboratory equipment, updates to campus technology, support for student life programs and much, much, more.”

Does that mean every new microscope the University purchases will have a plaque on it saying “Gift of Class of 2002”? Does it signify that every student who receives financial aid will get a 100-page profile of each student who graduated? Maybe it means that when the library learns to control the heat usage, it will be attributed to our donations. Who knows? To me, it simply seems as if the University is just looking for money. I was more intrigued by the words “much, much, more.” Does this mean it will go towards a controversial parking enforcement system?

I remember, once, a pair of roommates were going back to their apartment on West campus after one of them had finished a procedure at the hospital replacing fluid in her spine. The roommate who drove couldn’t find any parking. Realizing that her injured roommate could not make it to the room by herself, the driver parked in a handicapped spot with her hazard lights on. The driver accompanied her roommate up to her room and immediately returned to see her car had been ticketed. Worst of all, when she appealed the ticket, she was denied. Do I want my donation to go to a system like this – one that punishes someone for being a Good Samaritan?

Another part of the text read, “Your participation in this effort, no matter what the size of your gift, will show your pride in Villanova and your desire to say thank you as we move on to the next exciting stage of our lives.” I have only one thing to say about that. If you want to see my University pride, I will send you every single tuition receipt and University shop receipt I have accumulated over the past four years. Or maybe instead, I can show you the job that I don’t have to support this donation I would be giving otherwise.

My other issue with the Senior Gift, besides that it will produce nothing tangible, like a bench or statue, is that I am still paying for my education. I am paying for tuition, rent, food, other important necessities and soon, loans. Now, I am not saying that everyone is in this predicament. Some people don’t have loan payments to make and can afford to donate to the class gift, but for those of us who can’t, it’s like a slap in the face. If the donation would be going towards something tangible, concrete, something I could say that my class donated to the school, I would feel much more compelled to give a small donation.

One of my roommates had the same opinion in regards to this. She was fired up about the whole thing and named a bunch of things that we could have actually bought for the University-one being a new sign. The sign we have near the chirping bird at the corner of Lancaster and Ithan is nice, but it is old and worn down. It does not exemplify the true spirit and meaning of Villanova University. This, being just one of her thoughts, is an example of what a more concrete and meaningful class gift would be. It is one way to truly leave our mark with the University.

But the most irritating point about the Senior Gift is that the same flyer that was sent to me was sent to my parents as well. I opened the mailbox as I was coming back to school after Easter break and there it was sitting in the box with the other mail. I took it out and kept it. Okay, so I guess that’s technically illegal, but I was so furious that the University would ask so much. Maybe I’m just blowing things out of proportion. (I have a tendency to do that sometimes.) But if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that we are not all rich and we do not all have money growing on trees in our backyards.

I’m not saying that the seniors should not donate to the place where we have spent four important years, rather, I am saying that without something tangible, it makes it hard for me to fathom giving a donation when I can barely afford life on the Main Line as it is.