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.
Incoming first-years have just learned of the invariably sufficient financial aid awards they’ve received. But this year, the Admissions Office and the Student Philanthropy Council, whose sole project is asking for student donations to Swarthmore, had another surprise in store. In an innovative new strategy, incoming students on aid are now being asked to donate to the College even before they’ve set foot there.
According to Student Philanthropy Council co-president Prescott Bolper III ‘18, it all comes down to instilling a feeling of gratitude and excellence.
“Before they even arrive to campus, we want new students to say, ‘Wow, look at this amazing gift Swarthmore has given me, now it’s my turn to give back!’ ” Bolper said in an Instagram Q&A.
In the letter that notified them of their award, each student received the following message: “You may feel undeserving of such generosity from us, and one way to cheer yourself up is by giving us a gift in return!” The letter coincided with a cool new post on Swarthmore College’s website, which states: “There is joy in philanthropy—just as there is joy in the Swarthmore experience.”
When several members of the Swarthmore Organization of Low-Income Students raised questions about whether most students on aid could afford to be donating to a college, Financial Aid Director Paro Muffin brushed these concerns aside.
“Your concerns are so dumb,” Muffin said. “Loans are an excellent way to pay for donations while also building credit! In truth, we’re the ones helping you when you give.”
Reached by Snapchat on Thursday night, Bolper confirmed that, so far, not a single incoming student had donated. But, ever forward-looking, he wasn’t concerned.
“Donation can be intimidating, but we’re here to make it fun,” he said. “We’re probably going to introduce some fun challenges soon to inspire students. No details yet, but some thrifty first-years may soon have their admissions offers put in Jeopardy!”
It would be funny, except Nathan Miller has consistently demonstrated that he is so out of touch with Swarthmore’s values this could have been true.