By Annie Flanagan
The Senior Class Gift Committee has raised $15,000 toward its goal of $55,000 to create a communal space in the new Fine Arts Building, according to Assistant Annual Fund Director Paul Odegaard ’04. Odegaard said he expects this figure to jump soon as graduation approaches.The committee of nine seniors who were selected by Odegaard based on recommendations from academic departmente chairs, had the task of choosing a gift, setting a goal, and designing fundraising efforts.”Choosing a gift was the hardest part,” committee co-chair Martha Truax ’07 said. “We thought it would be nice to be able to have our gift go toward something more tangible-something we could come back to in five years and be able to see.”The committee sent out a survey to all the members of the class of 2007 asking their gift preferences. Truax said that the final decision reflected the survey results.While the senior class gift for the past two years has been a scholarship, Odegaard said that the committee chose a community space as this year’s gift in part because it will be accessible to many students. “This gift will hopefully reach thousands of people and be around for many years,” Odegaard said.The location of the community space in the Fine Arts building was not by coincidence, according to Truax. “Our specific gift toward the Fine Arts center is important because it shows that we as students care about improving the arts culture here at Mac and want to improve those facilities for future students,” she said.”This gift displays our value for the human spirit, and the human and cultural enrichment that are attained through the arts,” a leaflet distributed by the committee says. “The buildings will house future Macalester students, inspiring their creativity and excellence.”The monetary goal set by the committee is $2,000 more than last year, but in recent years the cost of senior class gifts has increased immensely. According to the Development Office, the senior class gift has almost doubled each year since 2004. In 2004 the gift was around $13,000, followed by $25,000 in 2005 and $53,000 in 2006.”We set the monetary goal to beat last year’s, but the goal of 50 percent participation by the seniors is more important,” committee member George Robbins ’07 said. “Even if the gift is less money than last year, it at least says that the class is behind it.”To attain the participatory and monetary goals, the committee has been working with Macalester’s Annual Fund office. The efforts have been directed not only at seniors, but their parents, as well as faculty and staff members.Throughout the year there have been mailings and phone solicitations, mainly to raise money. A wine tasting event on campus in March, planned in conjunction with the Senior Week Committee, encouraged participation in fundraising, Odegaard said.”The wine tasting event was supposed to get together a bunch of seniors,” Robbins said. “It was supposed to enhance our cultural knowledge about wine and get gifts.”Truax described the event as successful and agreed about its motivations. “The amount of people who gave grew exponentially as the wine tasting went on, it was awesome!” she said. “Overall I think it was fun to go to kind of a classy event and learn about wines that don’t come out of a box.”Past senior class gifts that have taken physical form on campus include the mural on the entrance floor of Kagin, donated by the class of 2001 and the wind turbine, donated by the class of 2002.