Sad news in the latest Record:

In the months since College Council Co-Presidents Jeremy Goldstein ’09 and Peter Nurnberg ’09 took office last February, they have used their position both to pursue their goals and to address student issues that have arisen on campus.

The three issues that made up the majority of the presidents’ campaign platform have not, however, come to fruition for various reasons. First, they have been unable to allow alumni to earmark up to $50 donations to specific student organizations. Nurnberg and Goldstein hoped that if enacted, this program would increase donations from alumni who felt a connection with specific groups more so than to the College as a whole.

Upon exploring the idea, Goldstein and Nurnberg encountered “surprising opposition” from administrators. “We met with a lot of different people, but in the end they weren’t receptive to the change,” Goldstein said. “They had their reasons – good reasons. There were concerns that earmarking would detract from the donations to the College as a whole, and there were problems with the equity of different student groups with respect to how supportive alums might be.”

Who could have predicted that the Administration would try so hard to block this worthy effort? Me.

College officials will try to delay you, will insist that they are interested in working with you on this project. Trust me: they’re not. They hate this idea. They will do everything they can to stop it, including every college officials’ favorite trick: smiling delay. If they can keep you busy with proposals and meetings for a few months, they know that you will lose interest and then graduate.

Most importantly, the College will try to stop you – will insist that it is interested in your ideas and wants to “help” you. The Sirens of Hopkins Hall will claim that you don’t need a separate organization, that the Alumni Office is eager to assist you and that your effort falls naturally in the work that the College is already doing. Avoid those rocks.

Previous discussion here. Don’t Goldstein and Nurnberg read EphBlog? They needed to set up a separate organization. I, and other alums, were standing by to help them. They failed. Were they ever really that interested in the idea in the first place? I don’t know.

But, good news! It is not too late! If Goldstein and Nurnberg are actually interested in, you know, accomplishing something rather than just burnishing their resumes they can start Ephs Choose right now. They don’t need an OK from the Administration. It is a free country. Then again, it takes time to find just the right font . . .

Saddest part is that the listed objections are so pathetic. There is zero evidence that directed donations would detract from aggregate College fundraiser. Writing a check for $200 to WSO does not make me less like to contribute to the Alumni Fund. If anything, the opposite is probably true. The more connected that I feel to Williams, the more likely I am to contribute. (But it is also true that directed donations decrease the power of the Alumni Office and Administration. That’s the real issue.)

Issues of equity among student groups is a feature of the process, not a problem. If WSO is better than WUFO at raising money, then that’s a useful lesson for my WSO buddies. Learning how to get strangers to give you money is one of life’s more important skills. If you are not good at it now, you should get better by practicing, not look to Hopkins Hall (read: Mommy) to bail you out. A competent EphsChoose board of directors will also ensure that each student group can only request X dollars worth of projects. Once they are maxed out, donors will have to select from the remaining options from other student groups.

EphsChoose is my official Best Idea of 2008. Surely there are at least some students at Williams who agree . . .

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