Besides politics and having to tell someone they have food in their teeth, nothing gets people on edge more than talking about money. Many different campaigns, nonprofit companies and colleges (like ours) use Telefunds to raise money. As students, we all should be donating money to Oxy. I know that right now it feels like there is no way that we can spare enough change to donate anything worthy — but the money raised by Telefund and affects you and those close to you.
In the spring of my junior year of high school, I worked for the political campaign of Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) calling people to ask for donations and talking to them about politics. But let me tell you, those six months were the most character-building months of my entire life. Nothing crushes you more than having angry drunk men curse you out for interrupting their dinner for thirty minutes straight. I remember one late Wednesday evening, the first man I called spent at least twenty minutes telling me how I was going to hell for calling him on a work night. I ended that phone call teary-eyed and exhausted, with still two hours of my shift left to go. He may have been the anomaly, but still, donations were few and far between. However, when people donated a mere $5 to $10, it would make my night. I enjoyed engaging with those who were just as passionate about the candidate as I was. The people I connected with while working on Peters’ campaign made it extremely rewarding when he was elected in late 2017.
Occidental’s Telefund does the same thing; you might feel annoyed that they’re calling you to ask for donations, but in the end, they do a lot of good and you know they’re (generally) good people. When you, or some other member of the Oxy community, donate via Telefund, that money goes toward Oxy’s scholarships, athletics and general resources. All of these programs benefit students. In the 2016–2017 annual report, the Oxy Telefund raised $434,617 for the Oxy Fund. Often, we take advantage of the fact that research opportunities, athletics and our 24/5 library are readily available to us, but we don’t think about the work and effort that it takes to get the proper funding to keep them functioning. Also, the students who work for Telefund work more than 10 hours a week. Some use their paycheck to fulfill their work study or support themselves. Beyond supporting the school, you support a classmate and make their job a little easier.
Many students question why they should support Telefund when they haven’t graduated yet. Tuition is already expensive, so students may say that it’s irrational to invest more in Oxy when they don’t have a job yet. However, it’s not all about your tuition. According to the 2016–2017 annual report, our tuition only covers 68.4 percent of Oxy’s operating costs. While the cost of attending for the 2019–2020 school year is $72,610, more than 70 percent of students are receiving financial aid. Instead of thinking about Telefund as a sleazy organization, think about it as a charity. If you’re not going to skimp out on buying $5 boba on the quad, why skimp out on donating to Telefund? Grassroots fundraising initiatives are vital to our school, because (sadly) our tuition doesn’t cover everything — including the funding that helps students come to Oxy in the first place.
Donating even a few dollars to Oxy Telefund could end up making a huge difference to your life, or the life of a future Oxy student. The next time Oxy Telefund calls and asks for money, don’t be a jerk. You should listen to what they’re saying and give them a calm and coherent answer. I’m here to tell (or maybe call out) all of you out there who hang up the phone, yell at the callers or say some things that would probably get an R-rating. These people are working their hardest to give you all these amazing academic chances, so the least we could all do is be respectful when we answer the phone and not shoot the messenger.
Milaya Sinnott is an undeclared first year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.