Widgets Magazine


Editorial: Seniors – Pay It Forward

As week six begins, the reality and excitement of the end of the year and the start of the summer are upon us. For graduating seniors, however, this excitement is tempered by the surreal recognition that the Stanford experience itself is also coming to an end. Amid the commotion of midterms and papers, many seniors were blissfully able to put off thoughts of the future, to carpe diem as if these idyllic days would never end. As they savor these last precious weeks, however, seniors should also reflect upon the failure of past graduating classes to rally around the cause of giving back to future classes. Class of 2011: it’s time to change that.

Seniors have received a slew of emails asking for donations to the Senior Gift, and about half the class (in true Stanford fashion) has procrastinated on the task. Many have brushed aside the campaign, questioning its wisdom. However, we still urge seniors to donate, as we find the following objections unconvincing.
Isn’t our endowment enormous?

Senior Gift money does not go to the endowment; it goes toward funding the Undergraduate experience — in fact, more than 75 percent of the Senior Gift will be given out next year as financial aid so that Stanford can continue to attract the best and brightest. Almost 80 percent of the current senior class received financial aid, meaning 80 percent of the class was a direct beneficiary of Senior Gifts of the past. The Senior Gift is an opportunity to say thank you and to pay that forward to next year’s Stanford students.

Haven’t I already given more than enough tuition dollars to Stanford?
Contrary to popular belief, Stanford cannot sustain itself on tuition and endowment alone. Actually, full tuition covers only two-thirds of the cost of a Stanford education. As a consequence, the University depends on annual donations to support core programs on campus. Without these donations, Stanford would not be able to provide many of the programs that students value.

Even if I donate, won’t it be just a drop in the bucket?
Senior Gift funds go a long way — although seniors are encouraged to give only $20.11 (the cost of a few Fraiche yogurts or Coupa lattes), each donation is matched almost three to one, tripling the impact. Furthermore, giving to the Senior Gift signals to major donors how much Stanford students value their experience, making million-dollar gifts to the University much more likely. Giving back (regardless of how much you give) also connects you to a community of Stanford alumni who want to see the University thrive. And as a member of the Class of 2011 — the class that’s on the brink of not only reaching but breaking the record for participation in Senior Gift, donating also makes you a part of something truly groundbreaking at Stanford.
In addition to benefiting future students, there are also less selfless reasons to donate. Your gift, no matter what size, is tax deductible; you are about to start earning money and paying taxes, and it would be a shame to miss out on your first real opportunity to write off a donation and to incorporate philanthropy into your yearly regimen. While you’re at it, you can also take advantage of the Senior Gift Committee’s rewards, like a Stanford Senior Shirt and Class of 2011 wine glass.
In addition, U.S. News rankings factor Senior Gift participation into their rankings, so by giving you elevate Stanford’s cachet. Sadly, past Stanford classes have underperformed; while 80 to 90 percent of seniors at Harvard, Yale and Princeton donate to their Senior Gifts every year, we have never reached those numbers. Even if beating the Ivies doesn’t make you want to give, consider that you have already invested tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in your Stanford education; 20 more dollars is a worthwhile investment in the Stanford brand, and thus your brand as a Stanford alum.


If you’re a senior and spend any amount of time on Facebook, then you’ve probably seen the 2011 Senior Gift video. The two-minute “day in the life” documentary captures a kaleidoscopic view of Stanford life, from biking down Palm Drive and competing in athletics to the Stanford routine of labs, problem sets and library dashes. With over 5,000 views and commentary from current, past and prospective students, it compresses an entire Stanford experience into a single day, reminding us of the countless beautiful moments we have spent on the Farm and the doors those experiences have opened. With your help, future students can enjoy those experiences as well, and walk through doors that you unlock.


To give, or not to give? Either way, it is impossible to deny that our Stanford experience has been incredible. We urge you to show your appreciation and seize the opportunity to make the Class of 2011 the first one that stands — and gives — together.

About Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Stanford Daily, an independent newspaper serving Stanford and the surrounding community. The Daily's Editorial Board consists of President and Editor-in-Chief Victor Xu '17, Executive Editor Will Ferrer '18, Managing Editor of Opinions Michael Gioia '17, Desk Editor of Opinions Jimmy Stephens '17, Senior Staff Writer Kylie Jue '17, Senior Staff Writer Olivia Hummer '17 and Senior Staff Writer Andrew Vogeley '17. To contact the Editorial Board chair, submit an op-ed (limited to 700 words) or submit a letter to the editor (limited to 500 words) at eic@stanforddaily.com.