Exercising at the gym, printing assignments in the library and riding on the Bio Bus are all activities that Elon students take part in on a weekly, and often daily, basis. But what many students don’t think about is the expense of these amenities and what is done to ensure they continue to be offered to students free of charge.
The Student Alumni Council (SAC) sought to address this disconnect by hosting the fourth annual Elon…Pass It On!, an event aimed at raising student awareness regarding the importance of donor contrubitions. Tuition and fees only cover 81 percent of an Elon education, and the rest of a student’s time at Elon is paid for through donations.
“Events like this and raising awareness with the rest of our classmates and colleagues is really important,” said junior and SAC member Darien Flowers. “It allows all of our students to understand that someone else made a commitment to the institution so that they can enjoy all the great things Elon has to offer.”
The event is intentionally held in March because spring break represents completion of 81 percent of the year, and the name Elon…Pass It On! references the “pay it forward” concept the event embraces.
“If we want future students to enjoy Elon as much as we do, we need to realize that we will eventually need to make our donation to Elon, thereby ‘passing it on’ to future students,” said Bari Sisson, president of SAC.
Jozi Snowberger, assistant director of annual giving and parent programs, said not all students have an accurate understanding of how their time at Elon is paid for.
“The university is so great and so wonderful, and through the lens of a student, the grass is always green,” Snowberger said. “When (current students) become alums, it’s hard for them to realize that the university does rely on donor support and that it’s up to them to help the university be the prestigious place that it is.”
Freshman Molly Zoellner represents one of many students who were unaware of the significance of donor contributions before attending the event.
“After knowing what I know now, I am very thankful for the donors for making Elon the great school we go to," she said. "I feel I owe a lot to Elon after I graduate."
The SAC advertised the event, held March 28 on the Moseley Front Terrace, by placing yard signs along the walkways in Young Commons and writing “Will You…Pass It On?” on whiteboards in classrooms. “We wanted students to start wondering about the event and asking their friends about it,” Sisson said.
The thought-provoking advertising campaign paid off. More than 200 students participated in the activities, which included creating a special video message and signing a dry-erase board to celebrate experiences at Elon provided to them by donors.
“Some people said because of Elon donors, I am achieving my dream of getting a college degree,” Snowberger said. “I thought that was a very powerful statement.”
Sophomore Kate Shafer said without donor support, she would not be able to attend Elon.
"I'm thankful because otherwise I would be going to community college," she said. "It certaintly helps to have these funds here to help me out."
The event has incorporated various awareness activities since it was launched four years ago. The Office of Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement hosted the event for the first two years, but the responsibility was given to the SAC when the group formed in December 2010.
The mission of the SAC is to educate students on what it means to be an engaged Elon alum. Earning this title can be as easy as coming back for Homecoming, speaking positively about the Elon experience or making an annual gift, according to Snowberger.
“(An engaged alum) means being involved and recognizing that you do have a lifelong relationship with the university, right when you step foot on campus up until the rest of your life,” she said.