Over the past few weeks, students have been receiving emails with the subject line, “What makes you proud to be a Longhorn?” Inside, Danielle of the UT Student Foundation pleads with students to make a donation to “… any program, anywhere on campus,” because apparently our tuition dollars, hard work, sweat and determination aren’t enough to fund this gigantic university. This email was horribly insensitive, misguided and seemed to insinuate that students are not doing enough to support their university.
When clicking on the link to donate, students are given the option to donate to Horns Helping Horns, The Student Emergency Fund and Athletics, among other choices. If the student prefers, they can select, “Other,” and enter in exactly where they would like their donation to go. The email itself asked for funding for club sports, organizations and other student-run activities.
UT has a $3.642 billion endowment for the year 2017. Instead of money being allocated towards important social resources to help students in need, students are being asked to fund these incredibly necessary programs themselves. Horns Helping Horns, “serves independent students who arrive at UT-Austin with little or no family support and very limited resources.” This is arguably one of the most important funds on UT’s campus. The argument is regularly made that donors to UT have the option of choosing where they want their donation to go, and often, they donate to athletics. It’s hard to believe, however, that these donors would not choose to support one of many necessary social programs. Instead, students are asked to fund this on top of tuition dollars that put many students in debt for years to come.
Athletic recruiting is important and brings in a lot of money for the school, and money should be spent on it. However, there must be a cutoff somewhere. When the football team is given $10 million perks, like lockers, one might think that the money could have been repurposed for a grant to give to deserving students. Had every single donor been presented with the options in the way students were, which put athletics fourth on a list of services that aid students in need, perhaps these resources would be funded.
In addition, the email mentioned that it was organizations and club sports teams in need of the money. These organizations were curiously left out of the list of suggested places to donate and only were mentioned in the email. Instead, Horns Helping Horns and The Student Emergency Fund (the one who helped students who had their lives ripped apart by Harvey) was listed.
Only 30 people donated to this campaign. That is .07 percent of the undergraduate population. The email mentioned that students should only pay “what they can,” but fails to have the foresight to see that many students are already paying more than they can afford. Even if a student were to have a bit of extra spending cash, the fact that we pay tuition, pay $20 for a transcript (yes, that glorified piece of paper), mental health services and sports tickets should be enough. If this kind of funding is needed, it should not be asked for from students. This email lacked the sensitivity it needed, and a campaign like this should never have existed.
Kashar is a radio-television-film junior.