Give back and go back: Let’s have a history

by Emily Smith

Opinion Editor

The Griffin Goes Back is a series of articles in which a current contributor responds to the contributor to the newspaper during its earlier days. This article responds to an article published on April 17, 2015 by then Opinion Editor Darby Ratliff. The full text of it can be found online in the Library’s archives and in the printed edition of the paper. 

On Wednesday, April 27, the Office of Alumni Engagement and Institutional Advancement supported the promulgation of media surrounding Giving Day 2016, a sprint of fundraising encouraging students, faculty, staff, and alumni to donate to Canisius College. During this event, $223,669 was raised from 1,103 donors. Giving Day also kept track of which class had the most donors (2013), which academic program was best represented (College Student Personnel Administration), which student organization was most associated with (DiGamma Honor Society), and which sports team had the most donating alumni (Men’s lacrosse). Though I personally did not participate in the event and have conflicting feelings about students being asked to donate to their institution even while still attending it, I thought that Giving Day was an interesting testament to the ways in which alumni can still stay connected to their alma mater.

As a student entering the College Student Personnel Program, which had 98 donors, I thought it was great to see how two years at Canisius (though some, I’m sure, also completed their undergrad here as well) could inspire someone to give back in the most represented way. DiGamma, of course, has always been an organization that’s closely associated with alumni engagement, and so it was no surprise to me that they topped the leaderboard. Interestingly, it was all of those who were likely still paying off student loans who were on the top ten for class year, with the “oldest” graduating class on the bottom with 15 donors from 2003. While this is not, perhaps, the best sample size, given that so many donated, many of whom likely don’t attend Canisius. Still, even with a few from each year, over two hundred thousand dollars were raised, surpassing goals of first 427 donors, then 716, until finally 1000 was hit and passed.

The Undergraduate Student Association was encouraging students throughout the day to take part in Giving Day, and a number of students from other organizations came out as well. The Griffin was bravely sponsored by 36 alums who were still willing to associate with this paper, and as a current staff member and someone related to all three clubs I’ve mentioned thus far, I’m happy to see that those that came before me still feel the need to give back to Canisius. A campaign like this, with a push that took over my social media, with Facebook posts from both friends and Canisius alums of all ages, is a cool means of keeping track of our past. I’ve always been fascinated with Canisius’ history, watching the development of the campus and curate a mental archive of all things at my soon-to-be alma mater. I can tell you stories of the legend of Churchill Tower, the reasoning for yellow paint in Science Hall, and the additional function of Loyola Hall. I’ll tell you everything I know about clubs and offices on campus. I’d love to see a Giving Day that characterizes that element of the campus. Where’s the history? This was one of the criticisms of the “You Can” campaign, as it doesn’t necessarily nod to where we’ve been.

Giving Day was an attempt to bring alums into the community, nudging current undergrads to share their stories on why they chose Canisius or what they love about it (i.e. the usual advertising schtick). Of course, I love seeing alums come back to say that things have changed since they left, surprised by those administrators who are no longer holed up in their offices or club rooms that have moved. Today, many are surprised that the Office of Campus Programming and Leadership Development no longer exists. These are the stories that are remembered, and while over two hundred thousand dollars were raised, the history of this institution is important. That’s what this paper is doing. It’s got its spin on different events that happen. The MUD issue is certainly evidence of that as well, though, of course, it’s less objective and entirely satirical. However, at the end of the days, we’re doing the news (well, I don’t deal in facts–just in opinions, but the point stands).

Canisius opened in 1870, and while it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see an alum from that era, unless, of course, someone Marty McFly’s their college education, I’d love to hear stories from those who came long before me. Former Griffin Editor and Canisius President John J. Hurley could share some stories, I’m sure. He was, after all, the Editor-in-Chief of these fair pages. Canisius alums populate this campus. We like to look after our own, a strength, I find, in that we buy into our own product. Giving Day was an attempt to see if our product buys into us as well, and it was extraordinarily successful. I didn’t participate, but only because of the long cliche but not untrue fact that I’m a poor college student. I want to give back though. I’ve already talked about how I’d like to one day endow a scholarship if at all possible. I’d like to give back to my programs, from English to political science and creative writing to college student personnel administration. However, I’d also like to add to this history. I hope that I have now, and I hope that I can one day speak of the times I had here. We spend so much time telling alumni about what we’re doing, but I think that Giving Day is a great way for alumni to give back to the institution in a less financial way (though that’s important, obviously). Perhaps I’ll be the only one, but I at least promise to wait at least ten years before I start the “Back in my day, we walked barefoot through the tunnels uphill both ways in the snow” routine. In the meantime, I’ll live in the pages of this “sad rag,” without which my experience would’ve have been the same.

It’s been a good one, friends.

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