This year, the Senior Gift Committee and the Senior Class Council created the Senior Shuttle Campaign: a new incentive for members of the class of 2019 to donate to the Senior Gift. If 80 percent of seniors donate to the Senior Gift, the Wellesley Fund will pay for the Senate buses during Senior Week so that graduating students can go into Boston and Cambridge for free. As of last Tuesday, the Senior Gift Committee had raised $2,334 from approximately 39 percent of the senior class.
The Senior Gift is one of Wellesley’s oldest traditions. Usually, it is the first time graduating students have the opportunity to donate to Wellesley College as alumni. The money raised for the Senior Gift goes to the Wellesley Fund, which provides funding for the College’s annual budget. However, students have the option of donating to distinct destinations, including financial aid, departments, orgs and residential halls. In addition to their financial contributions to the College, students who donate to the Senior Gift are factored into Wellesley’s alumnae participation rate. This rate is considered in rankings such as U.S. News and World Report.
Simone Archer-Krauss ’19 and Iletze Porras ’19 are the co-chairs of the Senior Gift Committee this year. They said in a written statement to The Wellesley News that they feel students should donate to the Senior Gift because “it is a class’ chance to leave behind a legacy at Wellesley, and one of the first opportunities to be a part of the Wellesley alumnae community.” They also encourage students to donate because it provides them with an opportunity to give back to “a specific part of campus that means a lot to them, be it a dorm, an org or a department.”
Archer-Krauss and Porras also explained that it is not uncommon for the Senior Gift Committee to create incentives for students to donate to the Senior Gift. In past years, the incentive was to make the Senior Gala free for all members of the graduating class. Since the Senior Gala is now free to all graduating seniors, the Senior Gift Committee and the Senior Class Council created the Senior Shuttle Campaign as a new incentive for students to donate.
However, the Senior Shuttle Campaign was not well-received by all members of the graduating class. After the campaign was announced via email, a few students criticized the Senior Shuttle campaign via email chain. The primary criticism of the campaign was that it was unfair to low-income students given that it will be more difficult for them to pay for bus tokens during Senior Week if the Senior Gift Committee does not reach its 80 percent participation goal.
Miranda Hardy ’19 was one of the students who criticized the Senior Shuttle Campaign in the email chain. She wrote, “It is cruel to bargain things the school could easily provide to make the lives of low-income students easier.”
In spite of some of the controversy surrounding the Senior Shuttle Campaign, Archer-Krauss and Porras said that the Committee’s goal for the year was to make the Senior Gift more inclusive to all students. In past years, a popular Senior Gift initiative was the Champagne Flute Campaign, which provided students who donated $10 to the Senior Gift with a champagne flute at Senior Soiree. Several students criticized the initiative for being unfair to low-income students since those who could afford to donate $10 got champagne flutes while those who did not got plastic cups. The 2019 Senior Gift Committee responded to this concern by replacing the Champagne Flute Campaign with the Sip for a Sib Campaign, which ensured that all students got a champagne flute if enough students donated. Enough students donated for members of the class of 2019 to get champagne flutes at the Senior Soiree, and the Sip for a Sip Campaign has been the Senior Gift Committee’s most popular initiative of the year thus far.
The co-chairs explained that “Our goal of inclusivity was matched by running a campaign as a way for everyone to get a champagne flute and our bus campaign has the same intention. We want everyone to benefit from the donations.”
They added, “Without this challenge the buses would still cost money over the weekend of Senior Week, as during the school year. This challenge provides an opportunity for low-income students, and the whole class, to have increased access to the buses, and Boston, during their final week on campus. Donations as little as $1 count towards this goal, compared to the $6 roundtrip that it costs to go into Boston on the weekends.”
Graduating students still have the option of donating to the Senior Gift. Archer-Krauss and Porras want students who are hesitant to donate to know that they “do not need to donate an extraordinary amount. $1 is the minimum donation and many other students only give that much.”