Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
“Paying it forward” seems to be the message that the Student Philanthropy Council is trying to put out there in regards to the Garnet Pig initiative.
The idea behind the Garnet Pig is to collect financial aid for the next class of incoming freshman. Piggy banks were distributed to the class of 2012 by the administration at the beginning of the year so they could participate in the Senior Class Gift Campaign.
Nicholas Rhinehart, co-chair of the Student Philanthropy Council emphasized that the donations were not mandatory at all.
“The Garnet Pig helps students realize what has been giving to them by past donors,” he said. “[The whole initiative] encourages participation but it is not about pressuring students to donate — that’s not what we want to do at all. It’s more about the idea of paying it forward to future Swatties.”
But not all Swatties seem to feel that way. Alex Burka ’12 disagrees with the methods the Student Philanthropy Council has used to approach the subject. “[The methods] are childish and underhanded because it’s like if you don’t donate money then there won’t be any financial aid for the incoming class,” he said.
Rhinehart has heard the term “brainwashing” being thrown by a few people around in regards to the Garnet Pig initiative. He suggests that everyone check out the facts and figures about the Garnet Pig initiative online to see that it is “all in good spirit.”
“It does not make the rest of the council feel good about our intentions because that is not what we are doing at all. What we are doing is seeking to instill a notion of paying it forward, which is not mandatory or coercive at all,” said Rhinehart.
“I think they should at least wait until we graduate, I mean I understand everyone is here now but it’s too early in my opinion, ” said Burka. When asked if he will donate, Burka responded that he would either way.
Over the past five years, the senior class gift has averaged about 3,730 dollars with 78 percent of seniors contributing. The class of 2010 set the record for senior participation two years ago with 84.46 percent of seniors participating.
“A lot of what happens here is because of the alumni and how much they have given back. We wouldn’t have the financial aid we have today without the generosity of the people that came before us. I want to make sure that we are all aware and thankful of that,” said Fritz Ward, the associate director of annual giving.
The Council has been working on the “12 for 12” project, a fundraising drive in which seniors are encouraged to donate 12 dollars over 12 weeks. The Garnet Pig also has a Facebook page where members of the council post fun things like pictures of the pig in silly environments. The Council is also considering organizing a parlor party where students are welcome to decorate their pig. Kimberly St. Julian is the other co-chair of the Council.
“It’s a pretty benign part of people’s lives, it’s not like they see their pig and think I’m not a good person if I don’t donate. And I don’t think the flyer we sent out was at all forceful; I think we gave people the facts and let them decide for themselves. I don’t see how people are pressured by a piece of paper with facts on it,” said Rhinehart.
Ward, on the other hand, wanted to remind the campus community that philanthropy plays a huge role at Swarthmore. “Everyone is thankful for those who have helped them, so have fun with it.”