Telefund starts calling underclassmen

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Telefund student callers began to phone first-years, sophomores and juniors Monday asking for gifts to the Annual Fund. This marks a change from past policy, in which the callers only contacted parents, alumni and current seniors.

Director of the Oxy Annual Fund Suzy LaCroix explained that the decision is an effort by the college to motivate students to engage with the fund before graduation and to inform them about its impact on students.

“It’s part of a bigger shift in the philosophy [of giving],” LaCroix said. “We’ve tried to make our senior class gift and our student philanthropy education more about meaningful philanthropy.”

According to Tyler Reich, assistant vice president of the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, Telefund is aiming to inform students earlier in their collegiate career about how important the donations are to their daily lives.

Kayhan Ahmadi, assistant director of the fund, said that the phone calls are crucial for establishing student participation in the Annual Fund, not just for the donations they receive.

Reich said that another goal of the phone calls is to allow students to give at a level that is meaningful for them personally, regardless of the amount.

“We’re not trying to pressure,” he said. “We’re really trying to just get people to make a meaningful gift in support of the institution that hopefully they feel gave them something.”

When asked whether or not student callers were nervous about soliciting donations from their peers, Assistant Director of Annual Giving Lucy Richardson said that the Telefund managers looked forward to educating their classmates about the fund and that she did not expect negative feedback from the student body.

But initial reactions from some students who received calls have not been as positive as the Annual Fund staff may have anticipated.

Telefund phoned Avery Chernin (sophomore) Monday, although he declined to talk to the student caller. Still, he expressed surprise that they were asking underclassmen to donate to the fund.

“I honestly feel like it was a little inappropriate,” Chernin said. “We’re already going to school here, and we’re paying tuition, and to ask for more money seems kind of aggressive.”

Elise Sugarman (sophomore) felt similarly to Chernin. Although she was informed by the student caller about the purpose of the Annual Fund, she opted not to give.

“I’m just a student,” Sugarman said. “Where I am going to get the money to donate?”

Rebecca Rawlings (sophomore), although likewise startled by Telefund’s call, donated $10 and said that it is important for students who are satisfied with their college experience to consider giving back to the school.

“We already give so much in tuition so a few more dollars doesn’t seem like too much to me,” Rawlings said.