Apr

16

Senior Fund Committing Fraud (Again?)

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Artist's conception of senior fund

Artist’s conception of senior fund

Every year, deep-pocketed alums full of Columbia school spirit volunteer to donate a large amount of money to the school if a certain number of seniors donate to the Senior Fund.

It’s a good idea; college seniors don’t have that much money, so their donations are really symbolic. It shows that they have faith in the university. This year, that donor is Charles Santoro, CC ’82:

In addition, Charles Santoro ’82 pledged to donate $5,000 to the College Fund when the Senior Fund has 250 donors, another $20,000 at 500 donors and another $75,000 at 750 donors.

Inspiring! And how will the Senior Fund inspire 750 seniors to donate to the Senior Fund? By using straw donors, of course! Here’s an email a message that some Columbia College seniors received from a member of the Senior Fund Committee [emphasis added]:

Hey! I noticed you haven’t donated to Senior Fund yet. We’re trying to get 750 seniors to each donate $1 at least so that we can get a $100,000 donation from an alumni — and this money is going to financial aid, whee! Would you mind donating online right now? Or if you’re unable to, would you be okay if I donated myself, in your name? Thanks so much! https://giving.columbia.edu/giveonline/?schoolstyle=41099

This tactic may have happened last year as well, with a slight difference: more than a few seniors discovered that they were listed as Senior Fund donors, despite never having donated to the Senior Fund. At least one of them took his concerns to Deantini, who apologized and pledged to “monitor the policies and practices in the Senior Fund in order to continue to encourage participation in a meaningful and appropriate way.”

That senior also contacted Amanda Kessler, Director of the Young Alumni Fund and last year’s Senior Fund advisor. She assured him, “We will be re-evaluating our donation collection and entry process for the Class of 2013 Senior Fund so as to avoid mistakes like this going forward.” Perhaps that’s why this year the Senior Fund is asking permission to donate in the names of seniors who would not otherwise give.

But will Santoro still donate if the money is collected in the names of 750 seniors, but 750 seniors don’t actually donate? We’ve reached out to both the Senior Fund Committee and Santoro for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.

Bag of money via Shutterstock

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18 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Frequently parents, grandparents, other relatives donate in the seniors names.

  2. Ugh  

    Who on earth cares? The money is going to great causes, among them, the Core Curriculum and financial aid. Certainly donating for someone is shady as a tactic, but if that means supporting important programs at Columbia, does this big a stink deserve to be made? Bwog is scraping the barrel with this muckraking.

    • how dare senior fund  

      try to get more money for financial aid! besides, isn't santoro going to donate the max anyways? I feel like this is akin to the doctor not saving a child's life because he didn't get enough "likes" on Facebook

  3. Excluded  

    They also emailed me yesterday apologizing for excluding my name in the original list of people who donated, which makes me wonder how many other people they didn't include...

  4. Anonymous

    Look, i graduated from CC in the 80's. I did well in life. There is no question that my Columbia experience helped me. In addition, i had a great time at Columbia and made many lasting friendships.

    I donate a good sum of money every year to give scolarships to Columbia College students. I hope that my kids can go to Columbia someday.

    I seriosly think a lot of Columbia students do not realize how fortunate they are. You all take Columbia for granted. You really should make a small donation to the senior fund. Just $5. Don't start the crap about how i should check my privilige!

  5. Someone who wouldn't investigate a story without a hook

    WHO CARES.....?

  6. Anonymous

    100k works out to about $22.22 in fin aid per student at CC. That should cover what you would owe for the first 15 minutes of one class.

    • Anonymous  

      it also pays for half a student's college tuition, and if all alumns donated this amount, heck even if only the "successful" alumns donated this amount, CC financial aid would be set for awhile

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