• September 2, 2015

2 Ivy League Drives Shame Seniors Who Don't Give

Students at 2 Ivy League Colleges Shamed Seniors Who Failed to Donate 1

Robert Barker, Cornell U.

David J. Skorton, Cornell U.'s president, gets the senior-class gift.

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close Students at 2 Ivy League Colleges Shamed Seniors Who Failed to Donate 1

Robert Barker, Cornell U.

David J. Skorton, Cornell U.'s president, gets the senior-class gift.

Positive recognition has long been a trusted way of raising money on college campuses, where buildings, benches, and even the insides of library books bear the names of donors.

But in an effort to spur gifts among young soon-to-be alumni, students at two Ivy League institutions are trying a different approach: publicizing the names of seniors who don't contribute to their class gift.

With lists supplied by college administrators, student volunteers at Dartmouth College and Cornell University circulated the names of students who had not donated to senior-gift drives. The programs relied on students to single out their peers to meet high participation goals.

Not everyone participated happily. The single student from Dartmouth's 1,123-student Class of 2010 who did not contribute this year was criticized in a column in the college newspaper and on a popular blog, which posted her name and photograph. The student e-mailed a testy response to fellow classmates describing her position.

At Cornell, the 42 seniors who volunteered to raise money were provided lists of classmates who had not given, and one volunteer shared some of the names with other students. In singling out delinquent classmates, volunteers were told to send multiple e-mails and to call students on their cellphones, telling them that they were among the few who had not yet given. At least one student didn't donate because she was turned off by the persistent contact.

Senior-class gift programs are part of a movement at many colleges to increase giving by young alumni at a time when giving rates among all alumni nationwide stand at a record low. Fund-raising staff members use students to solicit senior gifts within their tight social networks, creating a culture of giving that they hope will last beyond graduation. But once volunteers start soliciting, the colleges sometimes do little to monitor them.

Corey Earle, the Cornell official who oversees the senior-gift drive, knew that some of its peer-pressure tactics had backfired but said the university planned to keep the structure of the program in place. Sylvia Racca, the administrator responsible for Dartmouth's senior-gift drive, said via e-mail that it was necessary for student volunteers to know which of their peers had not yet donated. She did not mention making any changes in the solicitation process. She said that all volunteers were trained to respect the confidentiality of their peers and that Dartmouth officials "deeply regret that one person was subjected to inappropriate behavior, and we do not support in any way that behavior."

But since the purpose of such appeals is often to educate students and build donor loyalty, these approaches can actually undermine the gift program, says Rob Henry, executive director of emerging constituencies for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

"There are two likely outcomes. Either 'Oh, I feel bad, here's my $20,' or they don't give anything and feel bad," says Mr. Henry, who has worked with student-giving programs for more than a decade. Whichever happens, "It's going to be harder to get them to give as young alumni."

Costly Donations

Boosting young alumni giving was the reason Dartmouth remade its senior-gift campaign. Eight years ago, when Nariah Broadus was associate director of the Dartmouth College Fund, the fund-raising arm that oversees the senior gift, graduating seniors were being asked to make a pledge that they would pay off once they left the campus. But many of those pledges did not lead to donations. Ms. Broadus knew that most alumni who became big donors later in life had made gifts within a decade of graduating, and realized that if giving by young alumni stayed at the level it was at­, Dartmouth would become a college with far fewer resources.

"When they were all located in one central spot and were most receptive to the message, we weren't capitalizing on that," says Ms. Broadus, who has since taken a different job on campus.

Beginning with the Class of 2005, Dartmouth started a senior-gift drive that sought donations, not pledges. The drive tried to educate students about the effects of their charitable gifts and created scholarships for the next incoming class. It relied on students to collect cash and checks from their friends by saying things like, "I'm planning to stop by your room—how about I get the gift from you then?" More than 50 percent of seniors contributed that first year, a fivefold increase from the year before, according to a senior-class Web site.

This year's class-participation rate was 99.9 percent, surpassing the rate of all Dartmouth's recent classes. Four student interns, one of whom said they received stipends of about $1,500 each, began planning the campaign more than a year in advance. For the actual campaign, which lasted the month of May, they enlisted 71 campus leaders, twice as many as the previous class did. Each volunteer chose 10 to 15 friends and acquaintances to solicit donations from. They sent these friends messages about donating to the senior gift through BlitzMail, the internal messaging system used by Dartmouth. "Blitz is almost as personal as it gets," says Chelsea Kirk, a volunteer with the senior gift drive.

Olivia Stalcup, who was "blitzed" three times about the senior-class gift by a friend, felt that this peer-to-peer contact made her more comfortable donating money. Because it was someone she knew, "I never felt that I was solicited," she says.

Volunteers filmed a YouTube video where students throw cash and credit cards in the air and sing, in computer-modified voices, "Oh, tens, you know we've got it, show us your [expletive] wallet. It's the senior-class gift."

By the end of the month, only a handful of students hadn't given. That jeopardized a potential donation from the Class of 1960, which had promised to give $100,000 to the college if every graduating senior contributed. More students, like Ms. Kirk, joined the campaign as volunteers. "There was a huge push," she says, which included knocking on the doors of those who had not yet donated. The student interns who ran the drive encouraged volunteers to ask about a student's personal reasons for not giving but to accept no as a final answer.

With 24 hours left, there were, serendipitously, just 24 students who had not donated. One volunteer, an honors student in sociology, sent out a list of those students' names via BlitzMail that was passed along to many people.

Candais Crivello was on that list. A former fund raiser for Dartmouth's annual fund, she was surprised that some of the tactics her peers were using were different from those she had used to solicit alumni. Several of her acquaintances personally asked her to donate, with some even offering to give money in her name. One of the people who contacted her was not even in the senior class—she was on a sports team where a senior athlete had sent teammates a list of everyone who had not donated.

In the end, the lone holdout was Laura DeLorenzo, a physics and astronomy major. Her decision not to donate was criticized in The Dartmouth, the college newspaper, by Zachary Gottlieb, a former president of the Interfraternity Council. "You have symbolically shown the Class of 2014 that you do not consider their chance at happiness valuable," he wrote, not naming Ms. DeLorenzo. The day after his column ran, someone using the pseudonym Arnold Tungsten published Ms. DeLorenzo's name and photo on a popular Dartmouth student site, the Little Green Blog, along with his own sentiments about the matter: "You're not even worth the one measly dollar that you wouldn't give." Both writers were especially concerned that Dartmouth would lose the $100,000 gift from the Class of 1960.

Ms. DeLorenzo had been circulating a written explanation of her decision, which the Little Green Blog published. "My decision not to donate to Dartmouth reflects my personal conclusion that the negative aspects of Dartmouth outweigh the positive, and nothing more," she wrote, stressing that donating money was a personal choice. "I resent the pressure that was applied to me as an individual because the Class of 1960 promised an additional gift if the SCG reached 100-percent participation." (The Class of 1960 gave the $100,000 even though the senior class failed to meet its goal.)

Both posts drew lively comments, with many students and alumni supporting the gift drive. But some commenters anonymously questioned the sincerity of their own donations, saying things like, "Would I have given without the pressure? Probably not." Another comment said: "You have made it nearly the equivalent of a tax, so it no longer means very much."

A Panhellenic Push

Cornell's senior gift program unfolded in a similar way. In the final month of the yearlong campaign, the university's student volunteer in charge of sorority participation sent e-mails to at least one sorority whose participation percentage she felt was too low. "We ask that every senior join us," she wrote, and then she listed the names of students who had not yet given, which every member could see.

When only one person in the volunteer's own sorority, Erica Weitzner, did not give to the class campaign, she was repeatedly e-mailed and called. "It was approached as almost a necessary activity. It was kind of like somebody decided that all of the graduating seniors in the sorority needed to donate," Ms. Weitzner says.

Her sorority sisters who volunteered for the campaign twice called her cellphone from their cellphones to solicit donations, something all volunteers were encouraged to do with their friends who had not yet given. The four or five e-mails Ms. Weitzner says she received were at first generally addressed to her sorority, and then became aimed at her, saying that it was the volunteers' goal for everyone in the sorority to donate and that they knew that she had yet to do so. "I did not donate in the beginning," she says. "And the more I was approached by my sorority, the more I was turned off."

Student volunteers at Cornell said that both Mr. Earle, associate director of student programs who oversaw the class gift, and the drive's student directors encouraged them to solicit donations from students by telling them that they were among the only members of their Greek organization or sports team who had not yet given. Preferably, this e-mail would be sent by a volunteer who was also a member of the organization. University officials did little to watch over what those solicitations said.

Mr. Earle said in an interview that his office had trained volunteers to not make their peers feel uncomfortable, and that he had no knowledge of lists of students' names being sent beyond the circle of volunteers. The university had no plans to put any new restrictions on student fund-raising methods, he added.

Establishing a Habit of Giving

To inspire students to give, Cornell and Dartmouth officials told seniors that their class gifts were important philanthropic endeavors. Cornell even stated that senior gifts could help improve the college's ranking in U.S. News & World Report. But the giving programs bring in little money and actually have no effect on U.S. News rankings because the donors are not yet alumni.

Though matched by large alumni gifts, the $10,000 that seniors at Dartmouth donated to the class gift this spring would barely cover one year's housing and books for one student. The $80,000 donated by students at Cornell would cover two years' tuition for one student. The gift programs also have full-time staff members and a publicity budget.

Mr. Henry, the CASE expert on senior gifts, does not think it is important for a senior-class gift to make money. "The goal is not to raise money, but to begin a pattern of behavior," he says.

Dartmouth and Cornell declined to provide information on whether the recent increase in senior-class giving has led to a jump in donations once those students are young alumni. But Cornell and Dartmouth use their programs to cultivate the students who are most likely to be active as alumni.

To get students in the habit of giving, Mr. Henry recommends that colleges put together senior-gift programs that make students feel like they are making a serious donation to their institution. Colleges need to make sure students feel good about giving­—not pushed to make a "shoo gift," a donation given out of exasperation so the pestering stops.

The ideal senior appeal would be as professional as possible: Mr. Henry warned against letting student volunteers collect gifts in cash or take down credit-card numbers. This year, volunteers at Cornell collected credit-card information and cash; at Dartmouth they collected cash. Instead, he recommends that students make donations online only. As for fund-raising protocol, he suggests that volunteers and staff members be given a training manual that prohibits things like sending out lists of students who have not yet given. To ensure that students are not pressured to donate, 100-percent participation should never be the goal.

He suggests asking students to give $100, offering to pay a portion as seniors and paying off the rest over their first few years as graduates.

The best approach might be to focus on positive recognition in the biggest forum possible, he says: When a student walks across the stage in his or her cap and gown, the college could announce that the student had contributed to the senior-class gift. Says Mr. Henry: "That's serious recognition, not only for you, but for your parents sitting in the audience.

Tips on Attracting Donations From Soon-to-Be Alumni

Rob Henry, executive director of emerging constituencies at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, has worked with student gift programs for more than a decade. He ran fund-raising appeals at Michigan State University, the University of Connecticut, and the Yale School of Management, where he oversaw a tenfold increase in the amount donated by graduating students. Here are a few of his tips for administering a successful senior-class-gift program that will get students to keep giving as alumni:

  • Focus on education, not how much money you bring in: "Even if you go a little in the hole, it's a win-win," he says. The goal is to begin a pattern of behavior.
  • Take a professional approach, training volunteers with appropriate fund-raising techniques and requiring donors to make their gifts online.
  • Avoid 100-percent-participation goals to make sure that fund raisers don't put too much pressure on students to give.
  • Ask for larger, multiyear gifts—it's easier to ask young alumni for a donation that they've already pledged to make.
  • Positively recognize students who give, rather than publicizing the names of those who choose not to.

Editors' Note: The reporter, Rachel Louise Ensign, is a member of Cornell's Class of 2010. She was asked to donate and chose not to.


1. andreology - October 25, 2010 at 09:37 am

It's not a gift if you are bullied into giving.

2. mchag12 - October 25, 2010 at 09:47 am

Approached in that way, I would not give one red cent. These tactics are an invasion of privacy and personal integrity, something these institutions are supposed to respect and to teach. It sounds to be that rather than the small donations that may be receiving from these tactics, what they are more likely doing is turning off enough students that potential large donors in later years will decide to put their money elsewhere. I would.

3. catlkelley - October 25, 2010 at 09:59 am

Wow, this is crazy. I never, ever give to any charity that uses pressure tactics (such as calling me at home, repeatedly, day after day - which many charities will do). If my alma mater started acting like this I would swear never to give them another penny.

Another issue I see with this is that many young alumni simply cannot afford to donate money. When I graduated, I was already thoroughly sick of the spoiled children of privilege who simply didn't "get" how poor I was. (I did not go to an Ivy but a private institution with a reputation and pricetag in the same range as the ivies.) As a student lived on Ramen noodles. I would have had to go to my parents for money, out of fear of being shamed - and they were in pretty serious financial trouble at that time.

The arrogant presumption of this kind of tactic takes my breath away.

4. goeswithoutsaying - October 25, 2010 at 10:18 am

"The goal is not to raise money, but to begin a pattern of behavior."

When pressed for a donation before I had graduated or landed the great job that might make me able to donate to my Alma Mater, I heard this too. It was strange. As far as I could tell, I suddenly had become a Skinner box in my institution's eyes.

5. nathanielcampbell - October 25, 2010 at 01:33 pm

It's such tactics as these that have made my wife and me so thoroughly opposed to donating. The constant emails and letters (and the alumni association selling my contact info to an insurance company) have made me so disgusted with the idea of donating that I doubt I ever will...

...even when I can actually afford it. I must echo catkelley's comments above. My parents refinanced the house to send me to school. I had to work every summer just to afford books. I didn't have any spare money (even $20, which at that time bought a tank of gas) to give as a senior; I needed every penny just to survive.

The arrogant ignorance of such hardship is, in fact, the single greatest hallmark of students at elite private schools today.

6. fundraiser13 - October 26, 2010 at 01:26 pm

This article is very slanted. I think that upon proper investigation, you would find that neither school set out to publicize the names of those that chose not to give. When a campaign is run by students, there is only so much control an administrator can have...let's be realistic about how these programs are run. If you were to review Henry's five points against the modes of each program mentioned here you would find the only difference is the lack of a pledge program. Things get out of control sometimes- in student programs as well as alumni programs. To label these two schools as promoting public-shaming as a fundraising method is inaccurate and an agregious misuse of language. As Henry says repeatedly: focus on the positive. I only wish the author of this article would have done the same.

7. johnny6 - October 26, 2010 at 06:55 pm

Good luck getting anything from some of these graduates again. NAsty habits and undue pressure is long remembered just like any other form of abuse.

8. macwillow - October 26, 2010 at 07:23 pm

When I graduated a few years ago I went through the same hazing process.

I finally donated when I was begged to donate just a dime. They got their 100% participation that year. I hope that dime is in a very high interest account, as if I ever make the big bucks (unlikely) I'll remember how my university views its students as dollar signs.

It's the last dime the university is ever getting from me.

9. courtneyb76 - October 27, 2010 at 02:02 am

These people are crazy, plain and simple. Rude, uncouth, spoiled and out of touch. I don't understand why some still want to attend these schools.

10. fullprof99 - October 27, 2010 at 05:54 am

What. Jerks.

This underlines what most so-called "elite" schools are, not just institutions of higher learning but also exclusive clubs with all the the plusses and minuses that brings. Their grads will steer opportunities toward each other for the rest of their lives, but there's a cost in conformity and, perhaps, lack of real integrity.

11. jweinheimer - October 27, 2010 at 06:27 am

If the purpose of a university education is to learn how to think for yourself and not just be a mindless follower, it seems to me that the only people who got that message, and their money's worth, are those who resisted the pressure.

I admire those who resisted. Congratulations for avoiding the mind control! Excuse me: that is, deciding not "to begin a pattern of behavior" as Mr. Henry put it in the article.

12. acad301 - October 27, 2010 at 07:40 am

This morning I read this and was struck and sadden by the meanness of the behavior of the students at Dartmouth.

13. cleverclogs - October 27, 2010 at 08:14 am

@ fundraiser13 (#6) who wrote "When a campaign is run by students, there is only so much control an administrator can have...let's be realistic about how these programs are run."

Perhaps, then, if the gift-giving office can't control them, student-run programs like this shouldn't exist.

But actually, I don't buy that students run these programs. They are done under the auspices and (nominal) training of administrative offices. If those administrators have failed to account for the black-and-white thinking that young people often evince (something anyone who works remotely near education should know), then it is still their responsibility for failing to reasonably guard against it.

14. ronknott - October 27, 2010 at 08:21 am

The Chronicle's attempt at editorial honesty is appreciated, but a bit tardy. Only after we get to the end of the article are we informed that it was written by someone whose direct engagement in the issue should have immediately disqualified her otherwise well-written piece from being published as news. If the story was worth reporting, it seems that it should have been assigned to someone qualified to do so.

15. ruritania - October 27, 2010 at 08:45 am

Just what I want with a hundred grand in student loans; pressure to donate money.

16. pricerb - October 27, 2010 at 09:00 am

The Dartmouth Gestapo has so directed and its minions smartly formed ranks. The green shirts march, as their leaders say, with a "singular identity" to trample the rights of minority opinion and voices. They use the power of the media to ridicule individual position and opinion. Alone againt the Darmouth Gestapo--the Darmouth Class of 2010--rises Laura DeLorenzo. She dares to stand against their collective will and exposes their hypocrasy--a community where individual diversity is assaulted, where the power of the press is used to bully those who present a different but determined position, and where their mentors supply them with resourses yet deny culpability. ...

One person in the Dartmouth class of 2010 has exhibited outstanding character in the face of massive peer pressure. Character matters --which doesn't bode well for the latest that Dartmouth deems fit to carry a Dartmouth diploma. Ms. DeLorenzo. Her name I will remember. The rest of the 1,122...won't get far in my resume review file.

17. johnmilamjr - October 27, 2010 at 09:04 am

This article does not mention that these are clear violations of students' rights to privacy and confidentiality under FERPA. This is not a release of directory level information to determine whether some is enrolled or received an award. This is a mis-use of data. The administrators involved can claim initially that it was students who overstepped the bounds. However, once they became aware of this activity, they should have stepped in an immediately stopped all such efforts and safeguarded the student privacy.

18. procrustes - October 27, 2010 at 09:14 am

Kudos to those students who did not knuckle under. These programs are disgraceful; the university administrators responsible for them should be fired.

19. blisterfish - October 27, 2010 at 09:15 am

Need to keep in mind that even small gifts by a greater number of Alumni increases USNWR ranking, aims are twofold is my guess here.

20. davi2665 - October 27, 2010 at 09:21 am

Congratulations to the student who stood firm and refused to donate, even with relentless pressure, shameful bullying tactics, violation of her privacy, and attempts at public humiliation. If subjected to such harassment, I would promise to NEVER donate a penny to the institution, ever.

21. che08 - October 27, 2010 at 09:32 am

With all the talk about bullies these days I found this news appalling. These are students who just spent four years at an elite college and are now going out into the world? (OUR world!) What on earth did they learn in those four years? The fact that only one in 1,123 had the guts to stand up to the pressure is a little scary. I wonder what the Class of 1960 thought about this fiasco?

22. cmletamendi - October 27, 2010 at 09:52 am

Come on, this isn't right.. Donation is not mandatory, it's voluntary. There have to be other ways to raise funds as opposed to using these tactics. Get creative with the fund raising, it can probably get you more funds that way than pressuring someone who can't or won't give, and now, the publicity makes others less likely to give.

Questions? Comments? letamend@nova.edu!

C.M. Letamendi, MBA

23. vatican - October 27, 2010 at 09:57 am

I smell a lawsuit.

24. panacea - October 27, 2010 at 10:21 am

@Fundraiser13: "When a campaign is run by students, there is only so much control an administrator can have..."

Bull. When I served as class advisor for the senior nursing class last year, the first thing I did was to educate the class officers on college policies regarding fund raising, and stress that those rules HAD to be followed. I kept track of what they did and how it was done. To their credit, the officers were scrupulous about following the rules.

The students who pressured their peers today are the same people who will be pressuring their co workers in the future to donate to the United Way Comined Campaign (to which I NEVER donate after suffering similar pressure tactics in the past).

25. bretzsl - October 27, 2010 at 10:25 am

I am an alumna of Cornell, twice (BA 1989, PhD 1994). Cornell meets 100% of a student's financial need. I spent each of my four years working 20 hours per week for work study. I graduated with loans. My parents still had two siblings they were trying to put through college. I didn't have money for hockey tickets, money to go out, money to order a pizza even as an undergraduate. Every cent i had went to just getting my education. Shame on my fellow Cornellians for bullying students into contributing. Equally outrageous is the suggestion of announcing it as you walk across the stage at graduation. More public ridicule for those students not borne of wealth. Loyalty and pride in Cornell comes quite naturally. The ability to give financially has nothing to do with that.

26. sages - October 27, 2010 at 10:46 am

This is blackmail. Shame on those who thought this up.

27. getwell - October 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

@ronknott(#14): Are you kidding? The Chronicle regularly publishes biased articles. Who better qualified to write about this particular incident, than someone who lived it!

I am so proud to see so many comments in favor of the author's point of view. These situations expose clear patterns in today's culture to put pressure on those who do not conform...scary times we are living in:(

We need to encourage more courageous champions for individual rights and freedom:)

28. louisie - October 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

johnmilamjr -

This has *nothing* to do with FERPA and is not in violation. Whether a person (who happens to be a student) does or does not donate money to a non-profit organization (in this case a college/university) is not protected information. This is no different than if a religious organization sent an email of its members who had not yet made donations that year, for example.

While I agree with you that the practice of harrassing donors is in poor taste - and I would argue the Dartmouth case equates to bullying - it is not a FERPA violation to release information on donors (or students who have not donated). Giving money is no way part of a student's academic record.

29. angela3511 - October 27, 2010 at 10:51 am

This is disgraceful. Like several others have already posted, I was a broke college student. I did contribute to my senior class gift, $20.03 for the class of 2003, but I would like to think that I would have refused if they'd resorted to these kinds of tactics. Not all students have the extra money to donate, and forced donations are not going to lead to the warm and fuzzy feelings that will have students donating money when they have sufficient funds in the future. My undergraduate institution has spent far more than the $20 I donated years ago in trying to get more money out of me- lots of glossy mailings, phone calls from students who are paid to harass me, etc. When I have enough money to donate, I will. Right now, the economy sucks and my husband is unemployed. I need that $20 to pay the bills, so I sympathize with the students who couldn't or wouldn't donate. Shame on both of these institutions for their tactics.

30. jbarman - October 27, 2010 at 10:55 am

About 35 years ago, my employer agreed to solicit money for the United Fund. Our company had approx. 2,000 employees, and we were informed that those who did not give would be personally interviewed by a company executive to determine the reason for our "non-cooperation."

I don't know whether the company, the charity, or a zealous executive was behind the strong-armed tactics. As a 25 year old employee who was new on the job, I gave a token amount, and have not given a cent to the United Fund ever since.

31. tlnorth - October 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

So what, the Ivy league now overtly condones, and in fact even teaches bullying? Is it no wonder that the latest report indicates that 50% of high school students have been bullied And all this in the wake of a student being bullied into suicide at Rutgers. Handing out the names of non-donators was clearly unethical. That would be like posting a list of students who didn't pass class. Beyond unethical it is an invasion of privacy, and since it is an educational instutution, a FERPA violation. Some adminstrative heads need to role.

32. studentsuccess10 - October 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

Corey looks like a typical ass kisser and whether a senior student donates or not is only the business of the student. I am against any of this type of attempt to force individuals to give to a charity or organization. Giving is a private matter and there are many reasons why someone may chose not to give - no funds or job prospects being two very commone ones at this time.

I have served in leadership positions in several higher education institutions and I am amazed at the pressure that is applied to staff/faculty to give to retirement events, service agencies, alumni affairs, etc. I think most people are very capable of deciding where they wish to send such donations and I expect that this is a form of extortion on the part of the employers or institutions such as the two bushwhackers cited in this article.

33. frankietx - October 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

You would think that they would wait until these recent grads were a few months into a job at which their employer matched donations. Even at the Ivies, you just can't buy common sense.

34. 22183859 - October 27, 2010 at 11:21 am

This is outrageous. What happened here is nothing short of bullying. The administrators and students who engaged in this sort of conduct should be disciplined. I guess Dartmouth and Cornell should be proud that they are graduating classes of used car salesmen and bullies.

35. 11232004 - October 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

On one hand, I would resent and think it terrible to force giving as many before have stated. However on the other hand, many (not all) of the people who attend these schools are very wealthy, and they haven't learned how to give to charities. Maybe in a weird way, this will help them understand the responsibility of the privledge and wealth.

36. wesleyan - October 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

This certainly says a lot about how welcome economically disadvantaged students are welcome on Ivy League campuses.

37. unabashedmale - October 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

Lesson at Dartmouth & Cornell:

"The end justifies the means"

Let's see how gusty you little snotnoses really are.

Publish the names of all the alumini who have not contibuted at least $10000 to the college. Publish their names in the NYTimes.

Oh, only tough enough to pick on students?

38. swish - October 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm

11232004, note that a class gift is not what I'd consider a charity. Even if the money is going to help low-income student (rather than buying a gold-plated doo-dad engraved with the donating class information), we're allowed to choose which charities or causes we want to support, based upon our own priorities. Even if I *like* your charity or cause, I may want use my funds to support my own priorities.

Non-donors should hold their heads high. If they're being singled out, they can wear buttons that say "Proud non-donor to dumb class tradition" or a t-shirt reading "I spent my class gift contribution money on this lousy t-shirt." It could become a trend.

39. lawarren67 - October 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I am sorry but this reeks of bullying by the school and the peers and on what planet should this be allowed??? Did anyone think that maybe this student didn't have a job secured so they didn't have the funds OR heaven forbid maybe this students PARENTS lost their jobs and the family is living in POVERTY!?

Hey Dartmouth and Cornell I have a GREAT idea, why don't you go get your DONATION from the hedge fund managers that you allowed to oversee your portfolio and earned MILLIONS for loosing you BILLIONS! That is who you should be PUBLISHING the names of so that the rest of us "smart people" who didn't loose our shirts in the recession can steer clear of them.

40. 06agallo - October 27, 2010 at 01:59 pm

dartmouth should be ashamed for making someone feel so guilty for standing their ground. that poor student was verbally attacked for no reason and dartmouth should be seriously held responsible

ANy SCHOOL that hunts down their soon to be graduates in hopes of getting a donation from them should be ashamed. we havent even graduated yet..we probably dont even have a job yet..and youre asking us to donate to you? as if cornell needs my $20! and the fact that they use the word "philanthropic" makes me want to vomit on this Mr Henry guys FACE. cornell can give away scholarships and tuition easily to those who cant afford it. not to mention the absurd amounts of donations they receive from much older alumni. maybe instead of spending it on throwing a carnival on the lawn or stupid shit like that they save it for funding these kids. giving money to my school isnt a charity. cornell does not qualify as a needy charity. they can give back without the help of unemployed seniors. i would rather give my $20 to someone who cant feed their family. if my cornell degree gets me anywhere in life, then maybe in twenty years ill make a small donation. but to hunt down those who are seniors and make them feel ashamed? i dont think so.

41. mmdmt - October 27, 2010 at 02:27 pm

With personal knowledge of the senior participation process, this article's author and the students explicitly and implicitly referenced in the article... the only thing that this article reeks of is poor research and altering facts to fit an outrageous headline. As in any large population it's always possible to find one quote or one unhappy person, but this should not be used to make false generalizations.

Better research and factually conveying the realities and policies at these schools would result in a very different story that highlights community pride, participation and impressive student leadership and involvement.

Instead it seems that today's young journalists are more interested in editing their stories and headlines to peak the interest of Huffington Post, Colbert, Stewart and the 24-hour media circuits, rather than presenting the facts and attempting to foster honest and productive discussion.

Don't rely on this article for any truthful conclusions.

42. bethbraxton - October 27, 2010 at 03:13 pm

I disagree with a pledge component of a senior campaign. Fulfillment rates for pledges at most universities are incredibly low and in most cases, would mean removing the young alumnus/alumna from solicitations - other than a few pledge reminders.

The volunteers at these schools should be thoroughly trained in the future. If the annual fund officers truly didn't know about the tactics, it seems to me they aren't doing their job.

43. labjack - October 27, 2010 at 03:20 pm

What a great fundraising tactic! Including students in the fund raising process. I imagine it is very effective at developing student habits for life long giving to the school. Probably most effective among those seeking the donations. Attempting to get 100% participation is a sign of poor judgement, and poor leadership.

Strong arming 100% of students into giving is a tax.

It should also be a strong indication that the institution has failed in their main goal of developing confident, thoughtful, leaders. Sounds like more of a success in producing thoughtless cash dispensing robots.

If everyone else was jumping off the bridge would you? Sounds like at Dartmouth, the answer is a resounding YES!!!

The idea of anouncing a $10 gift at graduation after paying over $200,000 is ridiculous. I imagine that would not go over too well with parents. Summa cum laude... But did you tip your school?

44. uniwashdc - October 27, 2010 at 03:28 pm

Wow. Both Dartmouth and Cornell just went down a notch in my opinion. I hope the senior director of development on each campus wrote a personal note of apology to the students who were singled out. This is no way to raise funds and agree that it could do more harm than good. I wonder if Laura DeLorenzo was referencing this kind of behavior when she said the bad outweighed the good at Dartmouth.

45. aindrias_hiort - October 27, 2010 at 04:08 pm

Yeah, self righteousness makes you a bit blind. I remember a few things about students asking for money:
1. Those people behind the desks at a student union building asking you to give money or sign a petition. They have no idea of what's going on or how the money is spent. When you refuse, they ask, loudly, if you like to see babies starving to death. Right, 95% of what they collected goes to administrative costs, 4% goes to shipping costs, 1% buys food, and when it arrives, the army seizes it.
2. When I was in the navy they had a United Campain on my ship. You donate once, if you want, to whatever charity (listed on the form) you wanted. Then you could say that you already donated when people beg you for money. The captain wanted 100% participation, even a dime. One fellow refused, because unspecified donations went (in very small part) to people who supported abortion. A whack of pressure was put on him; he refused. Abortion is not the issue, it's really a question of when and where you stand up to peer pressure.

46. deptlanguages - October 27, 2010 at 05:54 pm

Winter Relief (1933 - 1945)

47. 22024621 - October 27, 2010 at 06:16 pm

I gave a small amount to my former school and was apparently "upgraded" to a list with others who gave in the past. After not responding to mailed requests, they resorted to calling me at home at dinner time. I explained that if they called me once more, I would permanently drop them from any future gifts. After a few months went by, I received another phone call at dinner time. I told them not to ever call again or expect any further donations as a result. No more interruptions!

48. 7738373863 - October 27, 2010 at 07:00 pm

The shaming of seniors is inappropriate. As an alumni of one of the two institutions discussed in the article, I give as generously as I can, and I also work as a volunteer alumni fundraiser. But my commitment developed over the years, as I came to understand the true value and meaning of my education. If someone had screwed with me in one of the ways reported in the article, I would have cut my undergraduate institution dead, exactly as I have done with one of the graduate schools I attended,, for unacceptable behavior of a different sort.

49. slinkyhead - October 27, 2010 at 11:50 pm

I'm a recent Stanford grad, and this is the sales pitch I got a few months before graduation. Since when was $1000 reasonable?

Dear [],

My name is [], and I'm a senior here at Stanford and a Co-Chair of the Senior Gift Committee. Certain members of the Senior Gift Committee expressed that you are a great candidate for the President's Fund because of your involvement on campus and your commitment to Stanford. The President's Fund represents Stanford's most enthusiastic supporters: established alumni who are members contribute $10,000 or more to Stanford annually. Since you are a graduating senior, I would like to extend a special invitation to you to join this year's President's Fund for just $1,000.

Graduating seniors who join the President's Fund are invited to a private lunch at The Faculty Club where they will be honored by President Hennessy, Peter Bing, John Gunn, (CEO of Dodge & Cox), Steve Ellis (Worldwide Managing Director of Bain), Matt Flannery (Co-Founder of Kiva), and more than a dozen other highly accomplished Stanford alumni.

I chose to join the President's Fund because I am so grateful for the impact Stanford has had on my life...my closest friends, my best memories, even the job I landed this fall - Stanford has played an absolutely critical role every step of the way. As a graduating senior, your gift will be more than tripled by Peter Bing and the Atwell Family. I was amazed that $200 per month for just a few months could turn into $3,500 for student groups and deserving students who need financial aid to come to Stanford. I was also excited to learn that President's Fund members are recognized in The Stanford Fund honor roll, receive special communications from President Hennessy and the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and invitations to three member-only events. These events are excellent opportunities to build relationships with alumni who can dramatically impact the future trajectory of your life. The Stanford name goes a long way, and I have found that even Stanford's most esteemed alumni are very willing to mentor students who reach out to them.

If you choose to join, you can make your $1,000 pledge here: []. To make your pledge over several months, select "Recurring Gift" from the drop-down menu; otherwise, simply select "One-Time Gift."

I understand that this is a significant commitment, and I would be glad to meet with you to talk about how the President's Fund might fit into your life and your future. Even if you choose not to join the President's Fund, we still hope that you will give back to Stanford in a way that is meaningful to you sometime this spring. Please feel to reach out to me or any of my fellow Co-Chairs and President's Fund Members [] if you have any questions.

I hope to see you at future President's Fund events!

Best Wishes,

50. getthefacts - October 28, 2010 at 08:47 am

This would make a great story if it was true. Instead, the "writer" crafted it to leave out critical facts about the Senior Class Campaign at Cornell. The campaign DEOSN'T have a 100% participation rate goal - and the campaign has a trustee sponsor that results in an endowed scholarship. But then, she already knew that and chose not to report it. Miss Ensign's deliberate use of provocative language is tabloidesque. I expect more from CHE.

Oh, and studentsuccess10 - to make a smarmy attack on someone's character based on a photograph is bullying and juvenille. But then, you knew that too - and chose to use the anonymity of the internet to spew garbage.

51. pricerb - October 28, 2010 at 09:28 am


Although a letter to the editor would be the most appropriate place to convey the evidence you suggest is missing and/or biased, it would be incredibly insightful to identify at least one point where the author misses the mark on the factual details. You provide none.

I would agree that the article certainly presents a bias and I also agree that "...factually conveying the realities and policies at these schools would result in a very different story that highlights community pride, participation and impressive student leadership and involvement." I believe that would be a reality at many of our institutions. However, if the pressure tactics in this story are remotely accurate, a bias you do not dispute, then the bullying, while sensational, is perhaps the bigger story. As many readers have already pointed out, the pressure to give to causes we do not endorse is tremendous and amounts to sanctioned corporate bullying. At my institution, the Annual Fund Campaign seeks 100% participation but the stewardship of our institutional resources is neither transparent or prudent, and earmarking specific dollars simply results in an accounting shell game.

Dartmouth could have had a wonderful story about the very characteristics you described, but it allowed, based on this account, unacceptable behavior to run rampant. If only a few, well-positioned individuals were at the core of the behavior, it was clearly enough to lead to the abuses described in detail--and if students are able to exert these types of pressures in an instance where their true "power" is constrained, I have some trepidation for a future when these same individuals become people in places and positions of power to shape and make policy. In these instances, it is the DeLorenzo's we will need, like our founding fathers, the Susan B. Anthony's, the Civil Rights leaders, etc., to stand boldly against the trampling of individual rights, whether minor or severe.

52. mainiac - October 28, 2010 at 10:20 am

Shakedowns and Palm Greasings are the way of the world. Sometimes, though, one has to mind one's knees.

53. dpubaff - October 28, 2010 at 10:46 am

This article states that one of Dartmouth's approaches to the Senior Class Gift was to publicize the names of students who have not donated as a tactic to pressure them to give. This is not true.

We believe philanthropy is a personal choice. All volunteers go through several training sessions, which emphasize that information about donors must be handled with confidentiality and respect. The training sessions make clear that circulation of donor information beyond the volunteers is inappropriate. When Ms. Ensign called regarding the article, we stated we will continue our practice of teaching volunteers about the nature of philanthropy as a voluntary act and the ethical standards that must be applied when asking someone to make a gift.

Sylvia Racca, Executive Director, Dartmouth College Fund

54. archman - October 28, 2010 at 10:59 am

Despicable behavior for a university. I'll have both Dartmouth and Cornell burned into my memory probably for the next few years... in a bad way.

55. 22097984 - October 28, 2010 at 11:00 am

The part of this story that I find most interesting is that just one student out of a class of 1,123 said "no". Can you find a better example of conformity of behavior and thought?

The arguments in favor of various diversity approaches usually emphasize the importance of getting different voices heard. A goal I for one strongly support. Then I read stories like this and think we are failing in our efforts to produce people capable of independent thinking. It does not seem to be an issue of race or class.....they all went along with this.

I really have to go back to thinking about the point often made by the religious right. That is that the only group willing to say "no" in our culture usually motivated by a religious argument and the failure of the elite universities to search out more of these students really says something about what kind of diverse thinking we want. I disagree with the religous right, but they may be onto something.

1,122 our of 1,123? Dartmouth should be embarrassed by that alone.

56. dlws8607 - October 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

I thought only the United Way was allowed to employ harassment and extortion in collection "donations." This issue sounds like when I was 19, working phone support for a software company, and barely making above the poverty level. My supervisor told me that all employees were "required" to "give" to the United Way as a term of their employment. I gave in once but never again. At one university, the United Way collection person would send an e-mail to all who did not give and CC the dean and department chairs. The dean sent an angry e-mail when people objected to this practice saying the person sending the e-mail should not be harassed for doing her job. The dean did not get that employees should not be harassed for making a decision not to give to the United "Extortion" Way.

57. martianroom - October 28, 2010 at 11:44 am

How sad that many students at Dartmouth do not know their school's own motto - Vox clamantis in deserto. AKA, "A voice crying in the wilderness". Biblically it referred to the clarion call of people like John the Baptist, who spoke up for his beliefs when it was politically and socially unpopular. Now me, I went to a hippie college, not an Ivy League school, but it seems to me that perhaps the person who really embodies the Dartmouth spirit in the class of 2010 is Laura DeLorenzo.

So. I had to do it... I created a Facebook group to support DeLorenzo. http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-support-Laura-DeLorenzo-Dartmouth-10-for-fighting-Groupthink/171878529494299 That way, I hope, something positive will appear on the web to balance out the rather scurious comments made by some other alumni on that blog.

58. duchess_of_malfi - October 28, 2010 at 01:19 pm

It would be great interesting to read a report of a follow-up study a year from now, both to get the renewal rates and to find how students perceived the strategy. I wonder if the outcomes, including bad PR, will be worth the money raised in the senior year.

59. swish - October 28, 2010 at 05:06 pm

Ms. Racca (the Dartmouth College Fund Executive Director) said above: "The training sessions make clear that circulation of donor information beyond the volunteers is inappropriate."

Maybe they forgot to mention the confidentiality of information about NON-donors.

60. pacosanchez - October 29, 2010 at 08:14 am

So at Dartmouth they raised $10,000 dollars from 1,122 students. An average of $8.9 per student, but to raise that they had to employ 4 student interns each given a stipend of $1500. So $6000 to raise $10,000-I mean I always heard you have to spend money to make money, but that seems an terribly high % (60%) to be going to overhead for fundraising-at most charities it is below 20%. That means adjusting for collection costs Dartmouth made $4000 from 1,122 or $3.5 well that certainly meets my definition of success-hope they can continue the good work next year.

61. rightwingprofessor - October 29, 2010 at 10:36 am

I have to screen my calls, Dartmouth calls every single day for a donation, I can tell it's a robot calling because it hangs up as soon as my machine picks up.

62. optimysticynic - October 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

Re FERPA: it covers only "educational records." Whether or not you contribute to a fund-raiser is not an educational record and so not subject to FERPA guidelines, although still an invasion of privacy.

63. 11126724 - October 29, 2010 at 02:10 pm

BULLYING!!! SHAME on you Cornell and Dartmouth, for continuing to employ anyone who engages in these tactics.

Both my parents were alumni of Cornell, and I'm quite sure they are turning in their graves. Both my wife and I are alumni of Cornell, and have often given funds in memory of my parents, and our time there.

NEVER AGAIN! Not one more penny will we ever donate to this sad university, that cannot tell the difference between what it teaches and what it does. NOT ONE PENNY!

How does that figure into "developing a pattern of giving?" Do you get the message yet?

64. fsmilen - October 29, 2010 at 02:47 pm

Excellent reporting,well written. The Parents'Fund campaigns should be next in line for expose.....

65. peejay - October 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I remember a similar experience when I finished up at a different Ivy League school almost 2 decades ago. I handed over $20 of my parents' money without too much complaint. I stopped giving money as soon as I left campus. My school's endowment is now up to $16 billion. They certainly don't need anything from me.

66. peacefrog - October 30, 2010 at 03:33 pm

@mmdmt: "With personal knowledge of the senior participation process, this article's author and the students explicitly and implicitly referenced in the article... the only thing that this article reeks of is poor research and altering facts to fit an outrageous headline." Are YOU claiming personal knowledge of the senior participation process, etc.? Because your modifier sure is dangling! And if you do possess this knowledge, you don't even share it! Come on now, how specifically does the article get it wrong? Tell us! We're dying to know!

The conformism and bullying that "100% participation" campaigns naturally produce is bad enough. Even worse is that there are people associated with Ivy League universities who can't argue properly.

67. thisisnotamerica - November 01, 2010 at 07:47 pm

I had something very similar happen to me at work. Does anyone know if these kinds of strong-arm tactics are legal in the workplace?


68. cornellalum - November 02, 2010 at 12:32 am

How can the editors of this professional publication allow someone who is clearly highly-biased and immature report on a very important topic. The senior class campaign at Cornell has a rich history that spans decades of success, bringing together seniors at a special time in their life which then creates a wonderful legacy for that alumni class. The editor of the Chronicle should appoint a qualified reporter to do a thorough review of this subject. This one-sided article is an insult to all volunteers who tirelessly support their alma mater, and more of an insult to the readers of this publication.

69. library2010 - November 04, 2010 at 08:43 am

Receiving a phone call at work as part of the university's "internal" fundraising campaign whilst working in an acknowledged underpaid position was salt in an ever-weeping wound. Getting the phone call immediately after receiving a pittance of a pay raise was galling to say the least - the university wanted its money back. I gave the poor student worker an earful and then worried about being fired. Even more insulting is when my children were at university, I would get calls from the Institutional Development/Advancement offices asking for donations when we were already paying tuition, etc. - and again the answer was always negative. At a previous barely minumum wage position in a corporate branch office, coercive pressure was applied for 100% staff payroll deducation participation in the United Way campaign so the branch manager could get his "pin" - I refused and have never given to the United Way because of the memory of these tactics. Institutions have to realize that your donors have to want to give and also have the disposable income otherwise it is a complete turn off and is your money actually going to fund the cause or is a contribution to the operating funds of Institutional Advancement/Development?

70. fsmilen - November 05, 2010 at 03:23 pm

To Cornell alum: Immature, why? Because she is a recent graduate? Maybe she just has first-hand experience with the ways of the university that are unclouded by alumni-mystification of the past. Kudos to Ensign and the Chronicle for writing about a sacred cow that has gone unmasked (or is it unmilked) for years. When was the last time that you were published?

71. rhett - November 06, 2010 at 06:09 am

Coercion. Goose-stepping coercion. Thank God for the "majority of one" who declined to be coerced.

72. collegechoice - November 06, 2010 at 06:29 am

11126724, thank you. Perhaps it is time to address colleges on these matters. What would be a good title? Perhaps "College Choice" or something better.

73. ak169808 - November 07, 2010 at 02:54 pm

Cornellalum... Your comments have no validity and only serve to emphasize the pinnacle of douchedom of which this story highlights in Cornell/Dartmouth's handling of seniors who do not participate.

74. ak169808 - November 10, 2010 at 01:43 pm

Sylvia Racca, Executive Director, Dartmouth College Fund - I like to volunteered, not being voluntold, which your College Fund drive is clearing doing. The lot you ought to be fired. I were to look up douche/ass kisser/brown nose/ future pedophile in google images I'm pretty sure a picture of Corey Earle would come up.

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