Alumni, students need your donations too

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As hundreds of thousands of students leave university with mountains of debt and university institutions like Queen’s continuously solicit alumni donations, the question arises about which is a worthier cause — giving money to students, or to the institution.

With Homecoming just around the corner, Queen’s will be working hard to do more than just honour its alumni — they’ll be working hard to woo them.

But as many of those subsequent donations end up in the hands of University administrators, a majority of the student body may fail to see how it benefits them.

Giving money directly to students by setting up scholarships or grants may not be as flashy as having a building or a stadium named after you, but it much better captures the essence of the student support and community-building that alumni networks strive for.

Streamlining donations to those who really need the money seems foolproof in theory. But when it comes down to practice, the nuances of logistics can make all the difference.

For instance, scholarships that stream alumni donations to students under financial stress have eligibility requirements that matter. Many scholarships cater to students with the top grades or the most extra-curriculars, but these can fail to account for the students whose résumés and transcripts are slipping because they’re working to make ends meet. If alumni want to give back, it should consider all struggling students, not just a small percentile who fit the mould.

There’s also a glaring difference between the University and the student body in terms of garnering financial support from alumni — one panders to well-off alumni while the other doesn’t often have the means to reach out.

That’s the reason institutions are handed alumni money, and the student body may not see it, but institutions would benefit their students — and their students’ bank accounts — by examining how resources donated to them can more directly address student needs.

Debt-ridden students are a blinding reality, but the alumni’s approach to aiding the issue needs to take all logistics into account.

It can’t just work in theory. We need to see the results of donations in practice too.

— Journal Editorial Board 

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