Graduating Seniors Raise Money for Class Gift

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Whether donating a gift to beautify the campus, renovate a library or create a scholarship, this year's graduating class strives to leave its mark at UC Berkeley.

The 2002 senior class gift campaign, under way for three weeks, invites all graduating seniors to pledge monetary donations and vote for one of three campus-benefiting projects.

The three possible gift projects seniors can choose from are a Sept. 11 Memorial Scholarship, a Moffitt Library room renovation and a restoration of the Campanile Esplanade.

"The whole point of this campaign is so that seniors can give back," says Debbie Ginzburg, advisor to the senior gift committee and a recent alumna. "When I donated in 2001, I felt good about it. It was nice to be able to take my place in Cal history."

UC Berkeley senior Isaac Clemens, chair of the gift council, says the campus will benefit from any of the three projects. Each project offers seniors an opportunity to make a difference on campus, he adds.

As an endowment, the Sept. 11 Memorial Scholarship would be available to students demonstrating interest in diplomacy and world-affairs. It would also be awarded based upon academic achievement and financial need.

The donations to the Moffitt Library renovation would be added into the library's restoration fund and would be allocated at the library's discretion.

Restoration of Campanile Esplanade would entail the reconstruction of once-present benches surrounding the tower, restoration of the Abraham Lincoln statue, and maintenance of the Mitchell Fountain.

"Whether it's making a scholarship so that kids can come here or being able to sit down on those benches at the Campanile and look at a functioning water fountain, there is a real value in preserving campus traditions and history," Clemens says.

The senior gift council has put much effort into publicizing the campaign. Seniors have been notified via telephone and mailed pledge cards and have been given an opportunity to speak to campaign members at tables on Sproul Plaza.

Clemens said he believes that on-line pledging, a new feature instituted this year, will increase participation. Information about the gift project is located on the senior Web site, which provides updates on all senior activities.

Campaign members are delighted with the amount of involvement from seniors. The campaign has already accumulated over $13,000 from about 300 donors.

But Ginzburg stresses the importance of participation over the size of the contribution.

"Someone who gives $5 should feel just as good as someone who gives $50," she says. "(Participation) has been better this year than we've ever had in the past."

Clemens says campaigns like senior gift-giving make students used to the idea of giving something back to their school. At a public university like UC Berkeley, students are not as inclined to give back compared to students who attend Ivy League schools, he says.

Tuany Vo, president of the senior branch of the Californians, agrees with Clemens that leading universities generate more monetary contributions.

"Stanford (students) pay more in tuition, get the same jobs as us and give back more money," Vo says. "At Cal, we pay less, get the same jobs and give back less. There is a bit of a disparity."

Vo hopes more seniors become aware of the campaign. She also says the 2002 senior class is unique from other classes because of its sense of unity in the wake of Sept. 11.

"It's important to do good, after being shown all these terrorist attacks," she says. "I think students will give even more this year because of the example of charity."

The project voted most popular will be presented to Chancellor Robert Berdahl at the graduation commencement ceremony.

Pledging will continue until May 10, though seniors have until Dec. 31 to pay off their donations.


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