Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Regarding Boalt Hall's Class Campaign of 2007

I got a call from a staff member at Boalt Hall's Alumni Center today asking me if it was alright if an "anonymous donor" could donate on my behalf. Why? Because I haven't donated through the Boalt Hall's Class Campaign of 2007. I am very deeply disturbed by the whole thing and I'm still not sure if I'm going to contribute. I have until May 11, so if anybody reading this has an opinion, please chime in.

Here are a few problems I've seen with the way this Campaign has been conducted. These are largely why I feel reluctant to donate through this campaign. I will be donating to a specific Boalt Hall student organization on my own, without any of this damn fanfare, so I always have the option of donating that money through this campaign and earmarking it for that group (but of course, a percentage of that gets lopped off before it ever hits the group's bank account).

Problem 1: Attack!

From the middle of last semester, all I've been hearing is how I NEED to donate to this Campaign or else I'll be the only one left out. All I've been told is that we want to get to "100%" without any explanation as to what their goal was in terms of a dollar amount. Who cares if you get 100% and everyone donates $10.00 -- that's not much help to the school. Day after day I have these Campaign-related e-mails and handouts force fed to me.

Problem 2: Let's Beat Stanford!

The other thing I keep hearing constantly is how we NEED to beat Stanford. Really? Do we? Am I that motivated to participate in a rivalry I could care less about? What rivalry anyway -- they suck at football.

Is it really in this Campaign's best interest to tell me that I should be donating money just to stick it to another school and show off? I think it'd be better to tell me how important it is to donate to this PUBLIC INSTITUTION regardless of what Stanford, or anyone else, thinks.

Problem 3: Beat your other Mods!

This is largely the same gripe as the Stanford thing. Can you believe that this bar graph is not a joke, but is proudly displayed on the Campaign's website? It completely turns me off to the entire idea of charity/investing/giving back when the whole concept is predicated on donating publicly and loudly so that I can rub everyone else's nose in it. Ugh!

Problem 4: No Anonymous Donations

So here's one major gripe. I can't donate anonymously. If I donate and I want to be anonymous, they will still include me in the count so that they can get to their precious 100% goal in order to gloat. So, irrespective of my good intent and also irrespective of the fact that they have my money, they won't really be happy until they can publicize my donation.

Problem 5: "Is Your Name on the List?"

This is an actual subject line from a few e-mails sent out on behalf of the Campaign. They publish each student's name and let everyone else know whether you've donated or not (and no, it doesn't matter if you donate the same exact amount to the same exact group, just outside of the Campaign -- why? Because the Campaign is premised on the fact that giving back to your school needs to be a competition).

So now instead of beating Stanford or beating other Modules of students at school, the impetus to donate is shame, that is, shame that your name is not on the list. The nerve of this Campaign! Why not publish the names of people who HAVE donated and leave it at that? Then at least you can give people who want to donate anonymously to ask to not have their names published.

Problem 6: The Donor Roll

And so this "list" of donors is going to be distributed to everyone at graduation, so they can shame me some more. The best part is that even if I donate, my name won't appear on that donor roll because as of April 26, the Honor Roll of Donors will already be sent off to the printers. Sure my argument is that I don't want public recognition -- but I can do without the public shame, too. Why the hell does giving a sum of money voluntarily have to be so damned public?

What should I do? I think what pisses me off about the Alumni Center asked me if someone can donate anonymously on my behalf is that the Campaign won't even let ME donate anonymously! I'm either going to give money through this Campaign and earmark it for a student group or give money directly to the student group and save my dignity (with temporary discomfort and shame). Anything I'm overlooking?


A.H. Rajani said...

2 Updates:

First I was given incorrect information about donating anonymously. I technically can donate anonymously though its fairly easy to figure out who anonymous is going to be in my mod when they list all the names. Moreover, it is still going to factor into their 100% frenzy, which bothers me.

Second, the student group I wanted to donate to is not even on the list of approved organizations. Argh.

Mad.J.D. said...

I don't have much response, except that, yes, they are trying to shame people into donating. And it looks like it works.

The only thing I can explain - and have time to - is my understanding of the 100% thing. The reason that 100% is more important than dollar amount is that the real money donors are professionally established alumni, and they are either more likely to donate (or have maybe even expressly promised to donate more) if 100% of the class gets involved first. It's some kind of matching situation, only not aimed at student dollars, just student participation. You can seriously pledge $5 and it will make a difference. But I also think whether and how to donate is a personal choice, so I respect everything else you say here.

Oh, and fuck Stanford.

A.H. Rajani said...

i'm afraid you're right about shame working as a campaign strategy.

i'm going to call up to see how to donate anonymously, though a lot of good that will do b/c i'll be the only doucebag who is anonymous out of the handful of people who haven't donated yet.


i'm not even happy about donating anymore. it's nice of them to have sucked any of the goodwill and common bond that i would have developed but for this dreaded campaign. thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's such a big thing. All law schools dig into their grads for donations. It seems like Boalties are more resistant to it than those at other schools. My guess is that a lot of us come from UCs where you can easily ignore alumni fund solicitations. But the private school kids probably already have been indoctrinated into their duty and already give to their UG school - so giving to Boalt seems natural.

Anyways, I don't think us Boalties have anything to complain about. As much as we like to talk about how different we are, Boalt still does everything it can to play like a top 10 private law school - and Boalties, as much as we like to pretend otherwise, came to Boalt b/c of the prestige (and maybe some other factors like location). Fundraising is part of the top law school game - look at NYU. And to say we want the top 10 status without the fundraising games is unrealistic - or at least a thing of the past.

Now you may not like the way Boalt is doing things. But I think this is just par for the course. Fundraising involves pushing as much as pulling - some of it may seem a little unsavory, but that is how the game is played.

Anonymous said...

come on, 160k.

A.H. Rajani said...

it's a done deal.