Class of 2011 makes its mark with senior gift program

As of Sunday, 74 Geneseo seniors have donated $1,317.42 to the 2011 Make Your Mark! campaign.

While those 74 seniors know the value of their donation, there are hundreds of seniors and thousands of underclassmen that won't know why they ought to contribute when their time to "make a mark" comes around.

The Make Your Mark! campaign has funded the designated senior gift since its conception in 1987. For the first 22 years, funds went toward a specific gift such as the Newton Hall "Valley, Village, College" display in 1992 and the Integrated Science Center pendulum in 2006.

Last year, however, the campaign took on a new approach. Instead of placing donations into a pool for one large gift, donors can now contribute toward specific causes and organizations on campus. Senior Bridget Denicola, this year's program coordinator, said the decision was made in recognition of the residual effects of the Great Recession.

"[The gift] is usually something physical but with budget cuts, we've decided to give back to something that we want to help out with," she said. "The money you give goes directly to where you think it is most important; a sports team, a fraternity, etc. It's your money, and you decide what's important. The college doesn't decide where your money goes."

It's a win-win situation. These small monetary donations help countless departments and organizations. When seniors donate, they go on a networking list, Denicola said. "There's an allocation box at the table or a space online and you write down exactly where you want your donation to go. You can say 'English department,' for example, or such-and-such sorority."

The website, which can be reached through the Geneseo homepage, lists the results of previous fundraising efforts of senior classes. Up until 2006, the total donations ranged from $15,000 - $20,000, but recent totals have not topped $5,000. This was an organizational move on the part of the campaign.

"Prior to 2006, the process of totaling the final class gift amount was structured differently and included pledges and gifts from individuals other than seniors," Denicola said. "Since 2006, the totals posted online only include gifts made by seniors. Parents can and do generously contribute to Make Your Mark! in honor of their graduating students, however, their contributions are no longer included in the totals posted online."

The Make Your Mark! campaign attempts to remind students of why it's important to give back to Geneseo. "I think kids are seeing why tuition alone isn't going to give them the things they need," Denicola said. "This is going to help all the kids coming behind us. The things that built me, enriched me here; if the money isn't there, those things aren't there."

"When we had the outdoor events, seniors could donate and get a T-shirt if they did a $15 minimum," Denicola said. She encouraged students to visit the campaign's tables when they are set up around campus. Students can also donate online at