Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seniors at Dartmouth and Cornell Learn the Artlessness of the Shakedown

From reading a post on the same topic in Valerie Strauss's The Answer Sheet today, I happened upon this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I almost had to read it twice to believe it was for real.

"2 Ivy League Drives Shame Students Who Don't Give" begins with,
"With lists supplied by college administrators, student volunteers at Dartmouth College and Cornell University circulated the names of students who had not donated to senior-gift drives. The programs relied on students to single out their peers to meet high participation goals."
So, the colleges supply the names of the seniors who haven't given to a group of senior volunteers, who then contact them with persistence. And then, as if that's not bad enough, the volunteers give the names out to other students: friends, team mates, sorority sisters. And finally, they publish the names of those students.

I figured that Dartmouth and Cornell would be embarrassed by such practices. Not at all.
"Corey Earle, the Cornell official who oversees the senior-gift drive, knew that some of its peer-pressure tactics had backfired but said the university planned to keep the structure of the program in place. Sylvia Racca, the administrator responsible for Dartmouth's senior-gift drive, said via e-mail that it was necessary for student volunteers to know which of their peers had not yet donated. She did not mention making any changes in the solicitation process. She said that all volunteers were trained to respect the confidentiality of their peers and that Dartmouth officials 'deeply regret that one person was subjected to inappropriate behavior, and we do not support in any way that behavior.'"
If they deeply regret such behavior then why is a version of it their the first place?

I mean, there's nothing wrong with colleges having senior gifts and asking students to contribute, but this is, at best, a distasteful practice, isn't it?

The article did end on a hopeful note, however.
"Editors' Note: The reporter, Rachel Louise Ensign, is a member of Cornell's Class of 2010. She was asked to donate and chose not to."
 From one Rachel to another: good for you.

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