Rowan's Senior Class Gift is an annual tradition where senior class members collectively donate towards scholarships for the next incoming class. - Photo via Graphics Editor / Jana Jackstis

Assistant Vice President (AVP) of University Advancement, Joe Frascella, wants to remind students about philanthropic initiatives that Rowan students can participate in, like the senior class gift and “Can the Van.”

Rowan University’s senior class gift is an annual tradition where senior class members collectively donate towards scholarships for the next incoming class. In 2020, the senior class gift received a total of $3,780 in donations toward a select few incoming students from the class of 2024.

“The whole purpose of philanthropy is to continue giving to a specific cause. Our concern is about getting donors, not necessarily getting donations,” Frascella said. “For that reason, we find that if seniors provide a donation for the class gift, they feel more inclined to be involved with Rowan University after they graduate. We want to create that connection between the graduating students, the university as well as the incoming students.”

Students often criticize the senior class gift, considering it’s asking a financially vulnerable population (graduating seniors) to spend more money at Rowan. Additionally, students who donate $20.21 or more will receive a spirit cord symbolizing their donation, which furthers some student’s negative sentiment on donating. 

“This is by no means a pressured situation; there are lots of students unable to give, and they look at the $20.21 as a minimum. It’s not a minimum by any means; no gift is too big or too small. You can donate a cent to the senior class gift, and we will be just as gracious,” said Frascella.

Aside from the senior class gift, there are more student-driven philanthropic initiatives that the Rowan community benefits from, like The SHOP’s “Can the Van” event on March 23 at the Rowan Boulevard Apartments.

“We will be collecting canned goods and hygiene products as a way to support The SHOP. Like everywhere else, they have been impacted by the pandemic, and their funding has been decreased. A lot of students, especially now, are relying more heavily on The SHOP,” said Frascella. “Again, if you are capable, it allows you to support the community now.”

According to The SHOP’s coordinator Rebecca Foster, about 1,500 students visited The SHOP in 2018; in 2020 that number was around 3,000. 

“After school shut down last March, there were students who stayed on campus in emergency housing, and others who lived off campus. Campus dining options had to be closed, and we were the only source that some students had for food. Not everyone has a car to get to Shoprite, and with most people staying inside, many did not want to venture off campus. We would have about 50 student visitors a week throughout the spring and summer, and now we see about 100 students a week,” said Foster.

If there were ever a time where The SHOP needs support from the Rowan student body, it would be right now. 

“We are lucky to have a very generous faculty and staff that helped us get through the lean months of the pandemic with their frequent donations. Typically we get a lot of donations from student groups, but without groups meeting on campus, that number has been down dramatically this year, when our need is at its highest,” said Foster. “The ‘Can the Van’ event is a great way for individuals or groups to get those service hours in since it only takes six donated items to equal one service hour! And it doesn’t have to just be cans. Items like toilet paper, ramen, tea bags, oatmeal packets and that extra toothbrush you got from the dentist are just as welcome.”

For comments/questions about this story, tweet @TheWhitOnline.