Funding the Flame Stirs Both Disgruntlement and Hope


By Justin AllardOpinions Section Editor

On Tue., March 18, Centre sprouted gold ribbons with gift tags on them overnight. They appeared across campus and were all addressed to Centre College.

The sender varied from tag to tag, but all represented a private donator. This was part of a new funding campaign called Fund the Flame.

Centre’s tuition covers 75 percent of the cost of running the campus — with the remaining 25 percent coming from private donations.

March 18 was selected for the day of Fund the Flame because it represents the day three-quarters of the way through the school year. Theoretically, all days past this mark are funded by private donations.

The signs were meant to call awareness to the different facilities created through private funding.

But in the context of the fundraiser, the whole situation seems to transform into an alms cry.

With emails, Cowan tables, and the Ewen Room filled with Phone-a-thonees calling alumni throughout the day, the importance of thanking those who have donated to Centre seems to be lost beneath the shadow of an extended hand.

It seemed to say: “Look at what others have given! We need this! Why aren’t you helping out?”

Students on campus were put in a weird limbo and unsure how to react to the campaign. The event was sprung on the student body in an attempt to inform us just how much of Centre’s campus has been funded by private donations.

Various items on Centre’s campus were tagged with giant gift tags and bows to inform the community what comes from donations

Various items on Centre’s campus were tagged with giant gift tags and bows to inform the community what comes from donations

There is the sense that we are being pressured to give to Centre and that giving is now an obligation (as we see all the benefits donated by each class before us).

With all the encouragement to donate that day, some students felt that Centre was trying to mine the last bit of wealth out of a depleted mine, most college students not being an incredible monetary resource.

Although some felt this way, others saw the event as a positive force on campus. It was interesting to see what facilities, trees, benches, and professorial positions originated from private donations.

When considered alone, they were like giant thank-you cards to the past benefactors of Centre’s college, recognizing the donors’ gifts. The bows raised campus visibility for alumni devotion and garnered a sense of campus pride.

Morgan Terry ’13, a new member of the Development Council and the person responsible for setting Fund the Flame in motion, feels that the campaign accomplishes the goals of informing students about the magnanimity of the private donators and thanking current and past donors while encouraging donations that will benefit the school.

“This day has a purpose: from this day forward, private gifts will pay for Centre’s costs. It is important to say thank you in a special way,” Terry said.

“One thing that is not advertised is that although 85% of the student body receives institutional aid, all students receive a 25% discount on the cost of tuition regardless of receiving financial aid. We want to inform students that giving to the school is important since so many benefit from donations.”

And as the bows pointed out, the donations not only go to helping students, but also provide a lot of important resources to campus.

The Fund the Flame campaign hopes to harness this impressive alumni stewardship and multiply the benefits.

“It is important to realize that people came before us at this school. The classrooms, the professors’ offices, the trees, and much more are here for a reason,” Terry said. “It is because the alumni and private donors care about their experience at Centre enough to give back. We want students to begin to think about giving back now.”


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