If you found yourself bewildered yesterday by the golf carts zipping around campus, Rhett playing games for cash in the GSU, white tents erected on Marsh Plaza, beaming students handing out cookies and endless Slack messages from your club e-board asking for money, there’s a simple explanation: Boston University Giving Day!
The annual tradition entails various games, contests and drives all dedicated to raising money for BU clubs, sports and even colleges. It’s lavish and loud, with groups all across campus clamoring for money to support themselves and their missions in the coming years.
By all accounts and across the board, Giving Day 2023 seems to have been quite a success.
The College of Arts and Sciences raised $317,746.
Friends of BU Hockey donated $256,106.
The Center for Antiracist Research acquired $31,605.
The Wheelock College Scholarship Gift Fund received a 5700% increase in donations this year.
In total, over a 24-hour period, 12,310 individuals spent their hard-earned money on various BU causes, groups and establishments — for a whopping total of 3.8 million dollars raised.
However, these massive sums beg the question: Why does a school with a three-billion dollar endowment force on-campus organizations to cajole their friends, families and networks into donating thousands of dollars?
And further, if our organizations and even colleges are supported by outside donors, where on Earth is our ever-growing tuition — complete with hundreds of dollars in community and student service fees — going?
In Giving Day’s defense, at least yesterday’s festivities will allow on-campus groups more autonomy over the financial success of their clubs. BU’s Students Activities Office is notoriously difficult to work with, often denying organizations funding in its entirety for minor mistakes or discrepancies in funding requests — which are often due to poor communication on SAO’s part.
Sports, especially women’s sports, also face obstacles in funding. Teams with less popularity or financial draw — such as cheerleading, which just so happens to be a traditionally “feminine” sport — would likely be quite monetarily hindered without donations from alumni or personal networks.
But it’s still difficult to wrap one’s head around the simultaneous existence of a three-billion — billion, with a “b!” — endowment, and our annual Giving Day.
What else should the endowment be used for, if not to enrich student life and community, cultivate strong athletic programs, offer scholarships for underprivileged students or support our academic schools and colleges?
Students should not have to pay tuition, pay club dues and beg their personal communities for money just to hopefully keep their clubs and organizations afloat.
In fact, BU’s current funding system likely disincentivizes students from starting or even joining groups, which should be an integral and supported aspect of college. Many students find friends, emotional support and even lifelong-passions from their involvement with on-campus activities, and these activities are just not nearly as effective or powerful if they are not able to actually fulfill their missions.
Social justice organizations should not struggle to pay speakers, who use their time and energy to share stories or action items in efforts to make the world a better place.
Professional organizations should not have to scrimp money together to provide networking opportunities and help BU students succeed in the real world.
Cultural affinity groups should not be shuttered or stifled by their lack of funds, forcing them to think smaller and meeker, instead of celebrating their communities and traditions in profound, exciting ways.
BU has the financial resources and power to not only sustain the lively, vibrant, efficacious campus culture that we currently enjoy, but to also enhance and expand BU’s impact and spirit — without relying even more on the pockets of students and their families.
This editorial was written by Opinion Editor Caroline McCord.