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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Senior Challenge dedicates fund to benefit greener practices

Grinnell College’s commitment to environmental activism takes form this year as an addition to the Senior Challenge. As well as being able to make unrestricted gifts to the College, seniors may now opt to give a Green Gift, a direct contribution to a special fund that will help pay for the College’s much-anticipated wind turbine.
The Green Gift appears as a checkbox on the Senior Challenge form that students may check to restrict their donation to be used only in support of the turbine project.
In early October, No Limits met with Student government association (SGA) Vice President of College and Alumni relations and Free The Planet (FTP) to achieve more concrete progress on their demand for a wind turbine.
From those meetings, and further discussions with Senior Challenge and Mickey Munley, the proposal for the option emerged, appearing in the Senior Challenge form only last week.
“Having those windmills will be a really substantial reduction to greenhouse gas emission,” said Nathan Levine ’10, member of FTP who helped put the Green Gift option for the Senior Challenge.
A principle benefit of the Senior Challenge is the money it generates for the college—Grinnell historically has less alumni participation and a lower giving rate than its peer institutions.
According to the 2007-08 20 Year Challenge Report from the Alumni Council, only around 38 percent of alumni give to the College in a given year.
“In the last couple years, some people have said, ‘I will not give to the college until X, Y and Z happens,” said SGA President Harry Krejsa ’10.
The option of giving to a specific cause or project has always been available to students participating in the Challenge—the College never emphasized it.
“Before it was a gift, or there was a space where you could write in a restriction, but there was nothing specific,” said Vice President of College & Alumni Relations Mickey Munley.
Gifts restricted in such a way are difficult to work into the budgetary process, according to Munley.
“Unrestricted gifts do not go into a black hole, they go into the College’s highest priority. [Six years ago] it was unrestricted gifts that led us to start our affiliation with the Posse program, because that was not budgeted money anywhere, but we had some budget flexibility because of unrestricted gifts, so we did that,” Munley said.
Over the next few weeks, SGA, No Limits and FTP will launch a large-scale poster and table campaign coordinated around Earth Week, to spread awareness of the change and garner support from the senior class, according to Levin.
“I think that it’s really become a symbol of our on-going commitment to social justice and environmental sustainability in the future…We want to remind people that we haven’t forgotten about this, and it’s something that really resonates with the student body,” Krejsa said.

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