By Karen Snow
A committee of BYU students has added the efforts of the student body to BYU’s capital campaign, enlisting the aid of nearly 3,600 students in raising more than $49,000.
Operating from Oct. 22 to Nov. 8, the student capital campaign rallied the support of 10 percent of the student body. This was the first year of a three-year student campaign conducted in conjunction with BYU’s capital campaign, “Lighting the Way for the 21st Century,” aimed at raising $250 million by August 2000. Organizers of the student committee are so pleased with the first year’s results, they may make the annual student donations a tradition to outlast the fulfillment of the capital campaign.
“I’m very pleased, to say the least,” said Linda Palmer, administrative advisor to the student committee and director of annual giving for BYU. “We’ll do this again next year and the following year to complete the campaign. It will be something that will become a tradition, I think, here at BYU.”
Palmer said the project was conducted essentially through a direct-mail campaign, which draws a typical response of 1 percent. “We got better than a 10 percent response, which is phenomenal,” she said.
The theme for the student campaign is “Living a Legacy . . . Leaving a Legacy.” Vance Taylor, a sophomore majoring in political science and the chair of the committee, said the committee chose the theme because students today are living a legacy left by their predecessors. Without sacrifices from people like Karl G. Maeser and Abraham O. Smoot, Taylor said, students would not be able to attend BYU. “Because we’re sacrificing for the university, we’re making it possible for more students to come here and for the university to improve itself. We’re leaving a legacy here as well.”
Preceding the official kickoff of the student campaign, a letter from BYU President Merrill J. Bateman was sent to every student, providing an overview of the purpose of the campaign and inviting students to join its cause. Approximately 70 percent of student tuition is paid through tithing funds, he said, likening tithing contributions to a scholarship for each student of about $3,350 per semester.
In his letter, President Bateman offered three reasons for contributing to the campaign: “Because your sacrifice will help your brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters who follow you. Because this is a defining moment for BYU when it can go from great to greater. Because the cumulative support of the students of BYU will send an important signal to potential contributors.”
President Bateman asked students to consider donating the equivalent of a night’s worth of entertainment to the campaign, likening the concept to fast offerings. “The idea is one of personal sacrifice. Some of you will be able to give little, some considerably more, but in any case, all can participate.” The average donation to the campaign was $15.
The president’s letter was followed by one from the student committee that included a reply card allowing students to specify how they would like their contributions spent.
Funds will be directed toward the three goals of the capital campaign, Taylor said: teach more students, enhance educational quality, and extend BYU’s influence.