Senior Pledge and its one dollar woes

On Giving Day, I went to the pub after seeing Jimmy Tingle (let us pause here to appreciate his ridiculous name). Upon climbing up that sacred staircase, I did not find the usual smattering of students playing pool, but instead saw alumni lined up, waiting to enter the pub. Of course, as a senior, I had a moment of self-entitlement and felt that I of course  deserved to enter the pub without waiting. Pub nights are for seniors, and as a senior I am of the utmost importance, no?

Well, this piece could turn into one about feeling entitled when it comes to certain traditions such as pub night, but instead I would like to focus on what happened as I stood in line. Within seconds, a man I did not know came up to me and introduced himself, claiming he was so happy to meet me! Of course, he should have known that while Colby is a friendly place, it’s not that friendly. I quickly called his friendship bluff and told him, “No, I will not be giving tonight.”

Why would I say that? Maybe because I can barely afford laundry, scraping by until I can return home for spring break and wash an unlimited number of loads without scouring my common room couch for spare change. Or maybe it’s because both of my brothers attended Colby, and the cost of tuition for three students seems like enough of a donation to me. But in reality, I think it was because of how fake this one guy sounded. It was so obvious that all he wanted was for me to give him some sort of payment. Meanwhile, his event was the only thing between me and a free glass (I’m sure they had already run out at this point) no less!

Don’t worry, this rant will end sooner than you think.

Because then, a peer came over to me and asked if I had given yet. I told her no, and she told me she was aware that it sucks to be asked to give while waiting in line and that there would be no shame in giving a single dollar, but she could totally understand if that wasn’t possible. I think you can guess where this is going. I pulled my wallet out of my coat and gave one dollar.

I don’t regret it. I think that it is important to give back to a place that I assume will help me in the long term. Still, it seems a bit odd to ask seniors to give when we are all stressing about how will we ever find jobs, and will our money really help, and my dance team was denied a safe stage on which to perform, and why is tuition so high, and maybe upon thinking of all of this there is an underlying issue with private education in America and oh my God should I have chosen my safety school for the scholarship? These are not exactly the things that run through my mind when thinking about the Colby Senior Pledge. But I can picture each one running through someone’s mind when being asked repeatedly to give. That and “can I donate my money to ensure the printers might actually work for once?”

I think the Colby Senior Pledge is a good idea, but I wonder if they could transform it a bit. Maybe it could focus on ways to give back to the community that don’t involve spending money? Just a thought. Also, when I think of where I will (hopefully) be in a year or two, I do not picture myself making nearly enough money to donate to Colby, and without people physically attacking me with pencils and little sheets of paper, I doubt I will go out of my way to give. So while I think the Senior Pledge can do some good, I think it instills a value that you are only valuable if you give money.

Money is important, don’t get me wrong (we would not have the same beautiful buildings without donations), but I think that when it comes to asking for something from people with no money, sometimes the donation of time and talent can go farther. So while I don’t regret donating my single dollar, I do wonder what my attitude would have been toward that too-friendly man had he told me I could spend an hour volunteering with alums (read: volunteering and networking), maybe I would not have been so quick to write him off. That, and if they had organized Giving Day on a Tuesday so as not to interrupt my cherished pub nights.

Comments are closed.