Telefund cancels shifts in response to alumni unrest


College officials canceled Telefund on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 due to the backlash caused by Campus Safety Lt. Joe Cunje’s firing.

“Our students are our first priority, and we didn’t think it was fair that they should have to be the ones to respond to concerns expressed about Joe Cunje from some of our alumni,” Assistant Director of Telefund and Graduates of the Last Decade Lucy Richardson said via email.

Students working for Telefund, who spoke to The Occidental Weekly anonymously to protect their employment, think that Cunje’s firing will have a potentially negative impact on fundraising this year.

“The fact that Telefund had to cancel shifts is enough evidence that it has affected our ability to fundraise,” Student Y said. “I cannot speak for the college as a whole, but I do feel that Telefund has been negatively affected by these recent events.”

While Cunje’s firing and other on-campus events can affect fundraising, Director of the Occidental Annual Fund Suzy LaCroix said that a variety of off-campus factors influence the school’s ability to raise money.

“What happens on Oxy’s campus and elsewhere in the world can affect Oxy’s ability to raise funds that support students and academic programs, but we are optimistic that we will meet our fundraising goals this academic year,” LaCroix said.

At least one Telefund employee, however, seemed concerned that this event had more of an impact on fundraising than others.

“There are more no-pledges from this than the other issues the campus has faced recently,” Student X said.

Currently, Telefund is not making calls to more recent graduates. But according to LaCroix, this is because of fundraising strategy, not as a result of Cunje’s firing.

“We segment our calling to reach different classes at different times, based on what our overall fundraising strategy calls for,” LaCroix said. “How we reach out to reunion classes, for example, is different than how we reach out to non-reunion classes. It’s a system based on flexibility. Segmenting is a best practice in fundraising.”

A Telefund employee said that student workers are unaware of any strategy and are just told what they should say in case they encountered a concerned alumni during a phone call.

“I personally am not sure who we are calling,” Student Y said. “All they have recommended is that we look to scripts when we call to help guide us if alumni are frustrated about Joe.”