RIT wants your money. All of it. Thursday, Oct. 22 marked ROAR Day, the annual campaign on campus for the General Scholarship Fund at RIT. ROAR stands for Raise Our Annual Responses in support for RIT, and all of the wonder it supplies. There were 10 convenient places to donate on campus, coupled with a variety of incentives including free Ben & Jerry’s cones, tote bags and raffles. There wear brown and orange clad staff members demanding that you showed your Tiger Pride in any busy place on campus. In a desperate attempt for people to stop at a table in the Student Life Center, one could sign up for a raffle without having to donate. As a student with limited funds, I find RIT aggressively asking for more money to be appalling. Why would I want to give more money to an institution that has already created debt for my family and me?
According to the 2007-2008 Year in Review, RIT has an endowment of $671.5 million. 56.2 percent of this figure is made up of our tuition and fees that students and their families pay each year. As students, we provide more than half or $377,383,000 of RIT’s finance each year, and yet they still ask us for more. While the economic downturn has affected all of us, RIT’s fundraising has still been aggressive to students that seldom have enough to scrape together for a movie.
Whatever marketing genius discovered the new untapped demographic of college students should realize the consequences to his pestering. The Institute continues to return to a dry well, expecting an oasis, but is greeted with annoyed students. This annoyance will continue throughout our time here, where students are continually pestered by these campaigns, and eventually when they have graduated. The total contribution from alumni, families and friends was $3,568,857 in the 2008 fiscal year. Only 9.3 percent of over 100,000 alumni donated to RIT. Several alumni, recent and past, do not have a significant connection to the school because of its rigor while they were in school. Current students are enduring the stringency and stress that is RIT in addition to staff panhandling in every eating establishment on campus.
Donating money to student scholarships is a worthy cause and Dr. Destler is fantastically philanthropic to match all of the student donations. Last year, ROAR day earned $32,000 in one day, which is significant, but does not equal a total year’s expenses at RIT for one student. It is a valiant effort to ask students to donate to each other, but when most students are in a similar personal financial situation, also known as broke, it is nearly impossible to raise significant funds. ROAR Day is designed to gather statistics on how much students are donating so they can tell other benefactors the percentages to entice them to give more.
Instead of demanding more money to show student school spirit, the development office should try to cultivate a better student experience while they are still on campus. Alums would then have more attachment to the school and would be interested in contributing to further the future of RIT. They should be creating an atmosphere where students want to stay on campus because they truly enjoy it instead of wanting to leave as quickly as possible. While they may not get immediate financial results, a boost in morale will greatly improve their endowment in a few years. For now, refraining from asking students and their families for donations would ease some frustration and a start towards a positive feeling towards the school. If RIT continues to make improvements in its overall spirit students will be more likely to show their Tiger Pride.