The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Senior Challenge poorly marketed

Steve Kent ’67 began the Senior Challenge in 1988 as a way to “introduce seniors to Grinnell’s tradition of generous, annual alumni support,” according to Grinnell’s website. Grinnell’s Alumni Council matches each gift if student participation reaches a certain level, to recognize and encourage gifts from graduating seniors. The way the Senior Challenge is currently set up, the Council will match each donation with $5 if 50% of the class gives money and $10 if 70% of the class donates.

However, the Senior Challenge has been meet with serious criticism in recent years. This year, the use of Whitney Hendrickson ’12 and Robert Yin ’12’s names in the donation form aroused complaints and suspicion. Neither student’s family requested a “donation in honor of” and the placement of their names in fundraising material comes across as marketing to grief. While a donation in Yin’s name goes toward a scholarship for a graduating singer or musician—in conjunction with the Chris Hade ’09 Memorial Prize—donations in honor of Hendrickson do not go to a specific scholarship. The lack of even an attempt at personalization reinforces the impression of marketing, rather than memorializing.

The Class of 2012 is not the first year to voice complaints about the Senior Challenge. The way the Alumni Council has constructed the Challenge reduces seniors’ gratitude for a variety of interpersonal and academic experiences to dollar amounts; disregards non-monetary ways of giving back to Grinnell; and practically pits students against each other—those who give and those who don’t—in pressured situation to give money to Grinnell. The Scarlet & Black recommends that the Alumni Council completely restructure the Senior Challenge to represent the many ways that alumni can contribute to Grinnell and to reduce the pressure to donate money.

While the Scarlet & Black takes no position on students’ personal choice to give to the Senior Challenge or not, we encourage the Class of 2012 and future graduating seniors to reflect upon the ways that Grinnell has cared for us and changed us. We encourage students to consider giving back to the school in any way that feels appropriate, in the spirit of supporting future generations of Grinnellians in the same manner that we were supported.

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