By Lexi Kelley /// Staff Writer
The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word donation is giving to someone who needs what you’re giving more than you do and because you want to support them. I think that this definition of donation applies directly to alumni giving back to Lewis & Clark. You may think I’m crazy for saying that, but I mean what I say and I say what I mean. More often than not, the money that the institution of LC receives from alumni makes its way into the hands of current students.
More often than not, the money that the institution of LC receives from alumni makes its way into the hands of current students.
Now, I think it’s safe to say that many students here at LC are overwhelmed by the amount of money that we fork over to the school every semester. What is interesting to think about though is that this money only covers a portion of the actual cost of tuition. The rest of the money for our tuition, for our clubs, and even for our overseas programs is supplemented by alumni donations. That sounds crazy, right? These people have escaped the grip of owing the institution money, why are they giving more money back to the school? Don’t they have loans to pay off? It kind of just makes you want to say, “What the hell, man?!” Am I right?
Well, that’s what I thought up until this semester. I am currently a member of the Senior Gift Council and have since learned about so many of the things that alumni provide for our current student body. As I mentioned previously, some of the money that alumni give goes to cover what’s left after we pay for our tuition because it doesn’t cover everything. These funds also help pay for the cost of having clubs and activities from Apocolips to Ultimate Frisbee and Beekeeping to Bantu ba Africa, and even the KLC and the Pioneer Log are sponsored by alumni donations. They also contribute to the funds that support the varsity sports on campus and help pay for the athletes on our campus to travel to tournaments and have the equipment they need to compete.
Alumni aid doesn’t stop there. The money that the school receives from alumni also goes into a scholarship fund for students who need extra help paying for school. Alumni can also make donations specifically to Pioneers for Pioneers, the student-led fund to help students pay for school when the unexpected happens.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that alumni donations are important only by the sheer amount of STUFF on campus that alumni donations help sponsor, maybe it will help to put it in a larger context. Every year, college rankings come out. These rankings are generated by a number of factors but a key one is alumni giving back to their alma mater. Alumni giving back shows that they believe in and value the education, experiences, and opportunities that their school made available to them with while they attended. Rankings do not focus only on how much money is given but instead concentrate more on the number of alumni who donated to the school.
A larger number of donations increases the school’s overall ranking and from here, an avalanche effect occurs. Higher rankings produce even more benefits for the school; such as more grant money and increasing the value of the degree that you are currently earning. More grant money allows for more professors to do research in their field of study, which in turn supplies students with internship opportunities. If there are more internship opportunities, there will be more students with professional experience when they graduate which can lead to a higher paying job. If your degree has a higher value, by default, this increases your value, whether that means as a prospective candidate for a position or if you are already an employee. Higher degree value can also increase overall salary. If LC students make more money, they are able to pay off their loans faster and in time make their donation back to the school that offered them so much.
It does not have to be about investing in the institution. Alumni donation is about investing in the next generation of students who come through LC so that they can have the same opportunities that we have and maybe even more.