“Fordlanthropy” Asks the Wrong Questions

in Opinion by

By Chloe Lindeman, Co-Editor-in-Chief

You might have missed that Thursday, Feb. 16 was the launch of Haverford College’s 2017 senior class gift campaign. The goal is simple: encourage “Fordlanthropy,” or contributions to the school. It happens to be a goal I support. But the campaign is taking the wrong approach.

Public higher education is notoriously low on funding, and it’s no secret that many private schools struggle as well. Giving to support future students is admirable and probably a good investment for the nation as a whole. It also makes sense that students who start giving early are more likely to give later on, and whether the relationship is just correlated (for example, because people who donate before graduate are those with more money) or actually causal, I understand the desire to tap into those future resources early on.

The problem is the rhetoric surrounding the gift campaign. 

“ALL undergraduates will be encouraged to show their Fordlanthropic spirit and give back to the institution that constantly gives them so much,” read one email encouraging donations.  

The implication here is that students are not giving back. With the countless hours students spend involved in clubs and activities that ultimately make the school what it is, I find the suggestion that our non-financial contributions don’t count a little off-putting.

Not only that, but the average Haverford student pays tens of thousands of dollars each year to go to school here. This is a kind of agreement with the college: we pay, they give us an education. Of course the college is doing a lot for us, and of course we should be appreciative, but it’s also what we’re paying for when we hand over our tuition, or go into debt, or work jobs to subsidize the cost of school.

So if you can afford to give, by all means donate generously. If you’re short on cash, I still think a dollar or two is worth giving. But whatever you do, don’t feel like your monetary contribution is the first time you’ve given back to Haverford.

 

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