A Gift Forward from the Class of 2006

By Michael Barnes

A message to seniors, and all those who hope to someday hold that title: For 75 percent of Macalester students, financial aid is more than a topic of discussion, it is a door cut straight through the thick wall of fiscal reality. College is expensive. And even those students that pay the purported “full cost” of a Macalester education are supported by a subsidy that reduces the amount they pay. Thus we are all entwined in a struggle for access to a Macalester education that relies on the support of former students who value their time here and choose to give others a chance to walk through the same doors we have entered.

The Senior Class Gift Committee this year intends to take a large step forward in the struggle for an affordable education by endowing the Class of 2006 Scholarship.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, we formally kicked-off the campaign for a scholarship with a faculty, staff, and senior reception in Kagin Ballroom.

As we begin this effort we ask that you take time, as seniors and as future stewards of the college, to reflect upon your experience over four years and to give something back to Macalester. More than a gift to the college, supporting a scholarship means you will be

giving something forward to the students that have yet to come.

An endowed scholarship of $50,000, which is the amount we intend to raise by the end of the academic year, offers a base of money that will generate $2,500 in interest each successive year.

That means at least $2,500 for financial aid each year forever, or until Macalester folds and walks away from the education business.

Giving forward in this way means supporting a number of students who will learn over time why we believe in Macalester not just as an institution that educates, but as a place filled with friends of the best sort-those that challenge us to work a little bit harder and to step outside our conventional perspectives for a new look at things. Giving forward also means investing in a college that balances a vigorous pursuit of academic excellence with an eye on access, so that a Macalester education is not restricted to a social elite.

“Quality and access,” the neutral rhetorical term introduced by Brian Rosenberg last year, is more than just a catch-phrase. There is a very real tension between the two values, a tension that we witness daily in the bylines of our financial awards (most of us breathing a sigh of relief), but also in the disturbing gap between those who can and cannot afford a liberal arts education.

At its root, education is supposed to be about opportunity; a chance to apply a mixture of hard work and insight toward our development as essential members of society. As students we work hard to make the most of that opportunity. But we are supported in our efforts by generations of former students, called alumni, who have remembered to hold the door open for us.

It is this largely financial support that fills in the gaps needed to ensure our access to Macalester. It may seem impersonal to find that the door to Mac is wedged open with wads of dollar bills, but each dollar in grant aid reflects a moment of hard work given from the life of an alumnus.

The 10 seniors who have gathered together to lead this campaign want first and foremost to encourage you to remember that there will forever be aspiring students pounding at the gates of this institution, demanding entrance and a chance to take the risks and reap the rewards with which we are all familiar. We ask that you remember to give them as much support as we have received.

Specifically, we ask that you help enshrine our beliefs in a gift that keeps on giving, year after year. By giving to the Class of 2006 Scholarship, you are signing onto a formal pact to future Scots that says, “we remember, and we are holding open the door.”

I would now like to introduce the rest of the 2006 Senior Class Gift Committee:

Andrea Johnson

Ted Clement

Zachary Axelrod

Ruth Chiu

Derrick Fernando

Emma Case

Vivek Sablani

Julia Eagles

Tamara Olson

Michael Barnes ’06 can be reached at [email protected]