Annual student gift donates proceeds to internship fund

The Thompson Memorial Library’s 24-hour hour space conjures up a certain image of overworked students and coffee, but there is no denying that it fills a need left by a library that closes far too early for some students’ academic tastes.

“Popular” is perhaps not the best word to describe this space, but at 2 a.m. during study week, students can still find a place to finish their last paper or cram for their most important exam.

While not all student gifts have been as tangible as the 24-hour space, all aim to work towards fulfilling Vassar’s goals as an institution. This year it will not be a late night room for studying, but instead the student gift will provide funding for the Internship Grant Fund (IGF), which is a fund built to assist students who wish to take a summer internship with little to no pay.

The IGF, like the 24-hour space, is also a result of the annual student gift. Director of the Career Development Office Stacy Bingham wrote in an e-mailed statement, “The [IGF] began as a result of student giving in 2007, with the Class of 2008’s sophomore class gift.”

Keeping the gift alive is not the only reason the committee and the students chose the Internship Grant Fund. As the co-chairs, seniors Michael Renner, Jessica Tarantine (Full disclosure: Tarantine sits on the editorial board of The Miscellany News) and Brian Evans wrote, “[The student committee] works to ensure that the gift is not only in line with Vassar’s values as an institution, but also in line with what the student body feels passionate about.” This year, it was helping students pay for food and housing over the summer.

Historically, the senior class has raised money through small donations, collecting pocket change from students every few days. This year, however, will be different. “Instead of aiming for an extremely high participation rate, we are instead instituting a no coins policy,” wrote Renner. By instituting this policy, the committee hopes to place an emphasis on meaningful gifts. “We really want students to pause for a few moments and think about what they want to give back to their school,” the co-chairs explained.

Without resorting to picking up pocket change in envelopes like classes in the past have done, the senior class this year will have to utilize other collection methods. Post-Baccalaureate Fellow for the Annual Fund Michelle Fairinella explained in an e-mail that the students will raise funds through a variety of ways. “[Options include] tabling in the College Center, collecting gifts door-to-door in the dorms, and sending out emails and appeal letters from the committee asking students to support the gift,” Fairinella wrote.

While it is the seniors leading the effort in raising money and heading the gift committee, many others are involved in the process. “The student gift is truly a school-wide effort,” she wrote. Fairinella said, “Elyse [Brocks] and I, who both work in the office of alum affairs, are the two liaisons between the committee and the office, as well as our administration.  Their work is to help generate students gift ideas based on what our administration decides are the greatest needs to the school, then the student body votes on it.”

This year, the committee as well as faculty have high hopes for the student gift. The gift may not be the largest donation the school received. However, Renner had a positive spin. He said, “[It has reached a] level of student involvement unmatched by other gifts,” Renner wrote.

Because the student gift is a school-wide effort, it is up to students to make it a success. “Even students who receive no financial aid still receive a sizable subsidy from Vassar because the school spends more per student on average than the cost of tuition, room and board combined,” the co-chairs of this year’s student gift committee remind us.

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