March 16, 2011

Senior Class Campaign Shifts Focus

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Although past Senior Class Campaigns have focused mainly on securing monetary donations from graduating seniors, this year’s senior class council revamped its campaign to focus more on acclimating seniors to life after college. According to Alina Zolotareva ’11, co-president of the Senior Class Campaign, the group worked with the Office of Alumni Affairs to restructure its approach in January before officially beginning its campaign in the middle of February.The senior class council made these changes following articles in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education last fall that addressed the pressure on seniors to donate, Zolotareva said. These articles specifically highlighted Cornell as one of the schools that apply the most pressure to seniors to donate. “The articles from last year made us take a second look at the way [the campaigns have been] going and how students feel,” Zolotareva said. “We were forced to restructure the campaign [to] better reflect the alumni affairs office and the way they reach out to alumni.”

“We asked the students what they think [they] can do and worked closely with them, [because] they have the best ideas of what will appeal to students,” said Corey Earle ’07, associate director of student programs at the OAA,Instead of only donating, students are now also encouraged to volunteer their time and talents, Zolotareva said. Jeff Stulmaker ’11, co-president of the Senior Class Campaign,  said the campaign is reaching out to seniors to work on phonathons to ask alumni for donations, as well as “thank-a-thons” to thank them for their donations.Some ways that seniors donate their talent, Stulmaker said, include participating in the creation of a video for the admissions office or working on a class journal about their experiences that were integral their time on campus.Organizational changes have also been made to prevent students from receiving repeated requests to participate, Stulmaker said. Zolotareva attributed this problem partly to the competitive spirit of the University. “When kids are part of a campaign and are excited [about it], they’ll try to get the numbers up,” Zolotareva said.While in the past students have been called persistently, she said, this year, the campaign is using specific protocol — calling each senior once, and later sending a follow-up e-mail if necessary.Stulkmaker said the campaign is on par with the gifts given last year.

Original Author: Cindy Huynh