Columbia College Interim Dean James Valentini issued seniors a challenge to fulfill his “3, 2, 1” fundraising plan at the Senior Fund Kick-Off on Wednesday.
The event marked the beginning of the campaign to encourage the Columbia College class of 2012 to make donations to the Senior Fund throughout the spring semester.
A short video produced by student filmmaker Pat Blute, CC ’12, featured current students and alumni talking about their “Columbia moment”—the first time they were faced with the surreal awareness that they were part of the school’s community.
Valentini cited his appointment as dean in September 2011 and meeting his future wife at an executive committee meeting in 1994 as two powerful moments in his Columbia career—and encouraged seniors in the audience who had their own “Columbia moments” to give back as well.
The “3, 2, 1” challenge asks seniors to donate every year for the three years subsequent to graduation and to tell two friends about the challenge. The meaning of the “1,” according to Valentini, has recently changed—though he said at a town hall in September the “1” represented the 1 percent of their income he wanted seniors to donate, it now refers to the fact that older alumni will match donations one-to-one.
At the event in Roone Arledge Auditorium, students were encouraged to give money on the spot. Valentini himself personally matched donations made during the kick-off—upping the returns on seniors’ gifts to two-to-one.
Recent alumni were on hand to support the cause. “I’ve already seen the effects of having a Columbia education. If I’ve already seen the benefits in one year, I can only imagine how it will affect me over a lifetime. I can’t imagine not keeping a link and giving back,” Mary Martha Douglas, CC ’11 and GSAS ’12, said.
Jake Goren and Stephanie Foster, both CC ’12 and co-chairs of the Senior Fund, hope to instill exactly this type of thinking in the senior class.
Goren said he hopes that students understand how they have personally benefitted from past donations, stressing that donations from alumni decrease tuition costs and provide funds for campus improvements, such as the new advising center.
“The hope is that people will donate while they’re here. … We don’t want to bug people until they give, we want them to want to give,” Goren said.
They may face an uphill battle, as some seniors have mixed feelings when it comes to making donations to the “3, 2, 1” plan.
“I understand the cause and getting large donations,” Katie Brinn, CC ’12 said, “but there’s a lot of conflict between wanting to support the school and contributing over the four years we’re here. It’s potentially a good strategy but I would want to think about whether I would want to contribute.”
Mpho Brown, CC ’11, has a more positive outlook on the “3, 2, 1” plan and donating to the University. “I feel like I’ve gained a lot from Columbia so before leaving it would be good to feel like I left something. If it wasn’t for other people giving back to the school, I wouldn’t be able to be here.”