By Gabrielle Hondorp
With Thanksgiving around the corner, Muhlenberg is in a giving season of its own; or at least the students are. November 16th marks the beginning of the 2018 Mulementum, a school generated event focused on raising money for various programs. This is the first fundraising event of the year, followed by Mule Madness in the Spring Semester. With prizes for individual donors and for the most generous class, ‘Berg made an admirable attempt to make it an enjoyable experience.
But with tables set up around the entirety of campus, one cannot help but feel slightly bombarded by the insistence on donating. “I felt like I couldn’t say no,” said Julia Termine ‘20. “Everywhere I went I was stopped by a different person asking me if I had donated. It really turned me off of wanting to give.” Of course the school wants to raise as much money as possible, but perhaps this effect was a bit heavy-handed. With the majority of the student body passing through Seegers every day, it would seem that that would be the most effective spot to set up shop. Due to it being a high traffic area, students may also feel less singled out and more willing to give, rather than in fear of feeling trapped as they make their way through campus.
Donors can decide to allocate their money to a certain cause rather than give to the school as a whole. Sports teams are specifically encouraged to raise money for their programs, and are ‘strongly encouraged’ to give to their sport during Mule Madness if they had not earlier in the year. “It’s a little overbearing,” said Corey Mullins ‘19, cross country and track and field athlete, “especially when your coach sees who donated and can single you out.”
After speaking to Coach Brad Hackett, head of the Muhlenberg Track and Field program, I was surprised to find that I left with a bit of a changed view. He began by saying that Mulementum is not any different from fundraising at any other school, but because we have such a small campus, having a table set up around each corner can be a bit overwhelming. What they are asking for however, is in truth, miniscule. Muhlenberg is not attempting to raise an incredible amount of money from its students, but it has been found that students that give when they are in school are much more likely to give after they graduate. The majority of money therefore comes from the alumni and parents.
Not only do the donations of students become habitual, but in the case of sports teams, there is an even bigger incentive to give. Various sports teams have a number of sponsors that donate to the team based on terms such as amount of students from a team being placed on the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll, or amount of students that donate per team.
Although this money may seem insignificant, given that each team has a budget, it is actually integral to the performance opportunities of the team. In the case of track and field, each event has an entrance fee with the more competitive events generally costing more. By the end of the year, the budget for entry fees has been surpassed, and money for meets comes solely from the extra money provided by donations.
This year, the team was also provided with warm-up jackets, sweatshirts and tee-shirts. “The program is basically giving you $175 of apparel for your contribution of $5, I think that’s more than fair,” said Hackett. He also mentioned the ice hockey team that has been active on campus on and off in the past few years. “Those kids had to pay $1700 to compete, and they did it because they loved it,” said Hackett. “The school didn’t help pay for anything, but they made it happen.”
Although track is considered the ‘cheapest’ sport, when it does come time to replace some of the equipment like high jump pit, it can be thousands of dollars. Should members of the team go to the NCAA Championships, the NCAA pays for the student athletes and one coach per gender, meaning that if there are two male athletes going, one being a distance runner and another a thrower, only one of their coaches will be funded to go with them. Some of this money comes from the budget, but most ends up being fundraiser money. Though donated funds are allocated to each individual team, each purchase made must be approved by the Athletic Director.
As for giving without a designated destination, the school needs the money as well. Tuition costs do not begin to cover expenses, not to mention that the majority of students also do not pay full tuition. I stand by the fact that Mulementum can be a bit invasive, but in actuality, it is one day of the year, the rest of the time of which I spend reaping the benefits of the donor’s generosity. Maybe $5 isn’t quite so bad.
Sources: Interview with Brad Hackett