After deciding to create the college’s first Student Giving Campaign last year, the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College (ASHMC) Council finalized a formal gift agreement last week that specifies that the newly created ASHMC Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to an HMC student of any class year who demonstrates financial need.
ASHMC, in tandem with HMC’s administration, decided last year to change the traditional senior gift to an all-class gift by establishing the Student Giving Campaign, but a misunderstanding arose as a result of an email sent about the fundraiser to the student body, according to ASHMC president Travis Athougies HM ’14. Athougies said that the email led some students to believe that the money raised would add to the ASHMC Endowed Scholar’s financial aid package when, in fact, the scholarship will not increase the amount of aid the award recipient receives.
Rather, the endowed scholarship has created a savings account that totals more than $12,000 as part of HMC’s general budget, which will gift one student 4.5 to 5 percent of its total fund every year, replacing the equivalent of $550 to $600 of the recipient’s financial aid package with money from HMC students.
“I just want to clear up what the scholarship was,” Athougies said. “ASHMC didn’t really run a lot of it.”
He said that while a few students were involved in establishing the new scholarship, it was primarily the HMC advancement office and a small group of students in last year’s ASHMC Council who developed the campaign.
Cassandra Meyer HM ’15 said that ASHMC “should have made their intentions clear with funding before they asked for it.”
“I guess we [as students] didn’t ask too many questions, and ASHMC thought we understood what was going on,” she said. “But I thought I would be helping future students, which I technically am, but it’s kind of weird that I’m not helping them additionally to the school helping them out.”
However, some students appreciated that, by helping to cover the cost of scholarship recipients’ financial aid, the ASHMC scholarship will make more money in HMC’s budget available to students, even if each ASHMC Endowed Scholar will not see his or her individual financial aid package increased.
“The communication should have been handled better and should be handled better in the future, but I’m fine with it, if the money ultimately makes it to a student, then it isn’t an issue,” Abram Sanderson HM ’17 said.
In order to avoid future confusion, Athougies has asked the students who moderate the student listserv to consult the administration before approving messages that refer to administrative activities.
Members of ASHMC and the Office of Advancement determined the parameters by which the money would be gifted after the money was raised, said Matt Leroux, Vice President for Development and Constituent Programs at HMC. He explained that when ASHMC raised the money last year, it had not decided what whether the scholarship would be awarded to a student from a specific class or major, or whether it would be a need-based or merit-based scholarship.
“There were a lot of things we worked with ASHMC this fall to figure out,” Leroux said.
He added that the HMC administration is looking to address the confusion that arose by seeking more student opinions in planning future campaigns.
“This year we’re going to start with the planning group so that all the ideas come from students,” Leroux said. “Our hope is that students will be more actively working on the campaign from the beginning to the end so that their wishes are brought into the campaign.”
Leroux said that the administration is excited about the campaign.
“We think this was very successful last year,” he said. “Especially in the first year of transitioning from a senior class gift model.”
ASHMC vice president Brett Mills HM ’14 said that despite the misunderstanding, the campaign was a positive effort for the student body.
“I think that the most positive thing that came out of this affair was getting students involved with the whole idea of philanthropy,” Mills said. “It was a way to get the students to be more involved with the administration and create something really cool.”
Students of all four years raised $5,183 toward the scholarship over the past semester, and with funds from college employees and alumni, the scholarship totals $12,383.