Donors and students are disconnected

Our donors may not listen, but other campus leaders will

Voting unanimously against the installation of campus-wide surveillance cameras, Community Senate made it clear that they wouldn’t waste rollover funds on unnecessary ancillary expenditures. For over a year, the board of trustees pushed for those security cameras. Instead, their agenda took a direct hit by its future victims — the students.

What this translates into is that even if donor money were to make the cameras a reality, students would be against their implementation.

This raises an important issue. Do the College’s biggest donors actually know what matters to students? Apparently not.

There’s a history of this. Search through The Guilfordian’s archives and you will find criticism regarding the fish tank in the Grill, the wooden outfield wall in McBane Field, the Armfield turf and most recently the mist fountain.

“The Guilfordian took a stand against the building of the proposed fountain and plaza,”
reads the April 12, 2013, staff editorial titled “A message from the Guilfordian.”

The article goes on to list alternative initiatives that were suggested through an online poll.

Apparently Joseph M. Bryan Jr. ‘60, former 41-year member and longtime chair of the College’s board of trustees, didn’t stay up to date with online polls because the rock fountain got built regardless.

“The $1 million gift from the Bryan Foundation provided $700,000 for the creation of the plaza,” said Vice President for Advancement Mike Poston. “Closing the road made the campus more pedestrian friendly and (the plaza) created another outdoor gathering space for students. The remaining $300,000 of the gift was added to the endowment for the Center for Principled Problem Solving.”

As a sophomore and a commuter in 2013, I was familiar with the road that separated Milner and Founders Hall. When I discovered my usual route through campus was altered, I was disappointed. I felt muted by a voice more powerful than my own.

“It’s disheartening to see donor dollars go towards what amounts to frivolous beautification efforts.” said senior David Hill. “In the most egregious cases, donors have given specifically for these projects. Regardless, the funds were never the school’s to allocate freely.”

Indeed it was Bryan Jr.’s money and he can do what he wants with it, but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the flaws simply because we lack the influence. The campus did and still does have real needs.

“When we talk to donors, we figure out what attracted them to Guilford and what they’re passionate about,” said Annual Giving Associate Hali Kohls ‘14. “Sometimes (donors) will have their own ideas from when they were a student or from speaking with current students.”

It’s apparent there needs to be better communication between students and the board. If one Senate vote can cause a rift in the conversation, then let’s make what happened on Nov. 6 a common practice. The campus is overflowing with better ideas.

“I’d like to see more money spent on sustainability and the greener options,” said first-year Shea Orth-Moore. “We’re already doing great things but I think we must still invest more in sustainability education for all.”

There are also programs relevant to the College’s core identity that require attention.

“The new Director of Friends Center & Quaker Studies Wess Daniels is looking at a Quaker Studies minor and major which will educate students and help grow the Quaker aspect of the (College’s) experience,” said Campus Ministry Coordinator Frank Massey. “It will take a lot of money to develop the program.”

Students can’t be disappointed when donor money isn’t spent the way they desire. What students should focus on though is showing up to Senate meetings where their voices will actually be heard. Also know that however reclusive you are, your experience still matters and there are those in positions of power who will listen.