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Seniors aim for whole class to don(08)

(02/08/08 10:00am)

For seniors, there's reason indeed to celebr(08). Although several months still remain before the graduating class walks down the aisle, they have been breaking all records in the Senior Class Gift Drive. The drive has already garnered 32 percent participation and raised $32,000, compared to this time last year when the drive had a 30 percent participation rate. In an annual tradition that has been running for more than 40 years, seniors hold a year-long drive to raise funds for the University. All contributions go toward the Penn Fund, an unrestricted budget that the University allocates to financial aid, student organizations, academic programs and other aspects of student life. With its goal of 65 percent participation and $65,000 total donations, the current senior class hopes to exceed last year's record of 63 percent participation and $63,999. "We've been way ahead of last year basically this entire time," said Wharton senior Jessica Trief, one of four co-chairs of the 60-member gift drive committee. Penn President Amy Gutmann expressed her confidence in the class' ability to break the record during the drive kickoff in September, when publicity efforts began with a well-attended barbecue. "The senior class is setting all records in its senior class gift drive," Gutmann said. "It is, I submit, the biggest single signal about the support that Penn has moving forward." Trief credited a major portion of the increase in donations this year to a swell in online gifts as well as enhanced awareness of the drive among seniors due to greater publicity. Seniors who donated $5 or more received t-shirts sporting the drive's slogan, "Celebr(08)." "The committee has been really good about peer to peer education," said 2007 College alumnus Dvorit Mausner, who serves as the committee advisor and assistant director of Student Placement for the Penn Fund. In addition to demonstrating to seniors how fundraising affects the Penn experience, the drive also seeks to encourage students to develop a habit of giving back to the University that will extend past just graduation. "Past years have made it possible for us to experience all this and now it's our turn to give back for future years," Trief said. However, Penn still pales in comparison to many other universities that have similar gift drives. "Princeton has a much larger participation rate, and I don't think Princeton students are happier than us, so we have to ask ourselves, why is that?" Mausner said. Students and alumni can make donations throughout the year, including the many Feb Club events this month. Donations can also be made online at www.seniorgiftdrive.com. The drive runs until the end of the fiscal year on June 30. And if the philanthropic incentive isn't enough, College senior and class president Puneet Singh, also a committee member, pointed out that this year's senior class "is poised to beat last year's class." That's reason enough to continue to don(08).